Dr. Nicola Finley (Internist)
Capturing Joy Like Children Playing at a Playground
What is childlike joy? Imagine you’re a young child playing on the playground on a bright, sunny day. You are at the top of the slide. You slide down, and your parent/guardian is there to catch you with open arms. Then, the child runs over the swing set and jumps on an empty swing. Before the parent/guardian even gets to the swing, the child is yelling “push me higher than last time”. This young child is not only smiling, but can’t stop smiling. That’s is childlike joy.
Let’s break down some aspects of this special emotion.
Having high energy excitement – In this specific example, childlike joy starts before arriving to the park. The process of children knowing that they are going to have fun is exciting. This anticipation is part of the excitement. Of course, there is the joy of playing at a playground. The icing on the cake is when children realize that they had more fun than they expected. Indeed, this emotion leads to a high intense feeling of joy.
Being Carefree – In order for children to be carefree, they need to be in a safe space. Also, being in a familiar setting of the playground makes it easier for children to be carefree. Lastly, a nurturing environment makes a difference in allowing children to be carefree. All of these elements can allow children to feel a sense of both ease and freedom, which opens them open to experiencing childlike joy.
Being Curious – Having a sense of curiosity might be a small part of childlike joy but yet it is still an integral component. Children who are curious will feel comfortable exploring different experiences, like trying new playground activities. This feature can lead to exciting new opportunities. For example, curiosity may open children up to the possibilities of new social interactions where children can share their joy with others.
A common theme of childlike joy is the association of being the result of play. A unique feature of this emotion is how it tends to be spontaneous. In fact, it takes no effort for children to express childlike joy. Furthermore, that childlike joy doesn’t have to only exist for the young. As adults, we can strive to experience this type of joy in our daily lives. We can even incorporate joy and playfulness into how we care for our skin. The only thing stopping adults from childlike joy is our mindset. Can you create scenarios where you tap into childlike joy for yourself as an adult? Try to capture that feeling of having high energy excitement, being carefree, and being curious, like children playing at the playground do.