We often hear that the best sound in the world is a child’s laughter. I completely agree with this. Hearing a child laugh just makes me smile–no matter what mood I’m in. I love how easily most children laugh, and how happy they are all the time.
I think back to being a child and remember how happy I was all the time. Even when horrible things happened to me, or my loved ones, I eventually always got back to being happy. As age set in, happiness had a different meaning. Indeed some days, happiness just means “content.”
I think I can speak fairly for at least 95% of my generation, that we were happier as children. I pondered on this this last week, and came up with eight reasons we were happier as children.
1. We trusted that our parents (or someone) would always take care of us.
Looking back at my life, I see twice when we were homeless. Many of my close friends will be shocked to read that. Yes, it’s true. But I never knew it. It wasn’t until some time in my thirties that I asked my mother, “Why did so-and-so come pick us up that one time? and Why did we stay with so-and-so that other time?” She told me why.
But as a child, I never knew. I couldn’t tell you when we were “too poor” to afford something. Because I knew my parents were always taking care of me. I never worried what I would eat or where I would sleep or what I would wear.
I did not know I was facing trials, I only considered it joy when new things came. And you know what? I turned out okay. I never starved to death, and I was always warm.
That same happiness can be found as adults in Jesus. If we rest in His all-capable, perfectly providing hands for all our needs, then we too, can consider it pure joy when we face new trials (James 1:2).
2. We were used to being told “no” all the time
My parents were always telling me “no.” When I asked to go to a friend’s house, if I asked for a certain thing for dinner, if I asked for a certain toy. Being told “no” simply elicited the response, “okay.” Very soon, I was over it. Most children of my generation and those more “well seasoned” were told “no” a lot–and it was okay–we got over it.
And then…when we got a “yes”–boy was it something special.
As adults, we are used to having more control over our own days. I choose what friend’s house to go to, what to eat for dinner, what to purchase. Quite honestly, I don’t get told “no” very often. But when I do? I have abandoned the response of “okay” and rapidly getting over it.
And when Jesus says no…how many of us really say “okay” and get over it? It’s hard friends. But what if we started asking for things all the time? What if every day we were constantly talking to Him about where He wanted us to go, how He wanted us to spend our money, and even what we should eat? What if we got used to running all our decisions by Him, instead of just the hard ones?
How much sweeter would our “yeses” be then?
3. We trusted our parents gave us the best toys
The children in our house didn’t get to watch TV. Mom watched Jeopardy, and Dad watched the news–without the kids. There were no such things as computers (until I got older), and internet wasn’t around until later. I really didn’t know all the “toys” that were out there.
We didn’t sit on Santa’s lap and ask for stuff. We didn’t ask for stuff for our birthdays. Mom and Dad just gave us what we needed. Sometimes it was wrapped up, sometimes it wasn’t. And you know what? It was awesome!
I always had what I needed, and I didn’t really want for anything else. School holiday breaks were about traveling around and seeing family. Going back to school and seeing my friends again meant we would sit around and share who we went to see–not what new toys we got. Which is great–because I don’t have any of those toys anymore, but I sure remember my travels and the time with my family.
There is so much “stuff” in the world these days, that sometimes looking at stuff just makes us think that we don’t have stuff. My husband and I did an exercise a couple years back when money was tight. We literally went through the house and identified all the “stuff” God has blessed us with during this “tight” phase. This list included our children, our church body, and a full pantry after a plentiful harvest–just to name a few things.
Part of being happy adults is not looking to all the stuff we don’t have, but instead trusting that our loving Father in Heaven will give us the best gifts. And when we aren’t looking, we may miss them.
4. We had “escapes”
Even when times were really rough at home, I knew that Monday through Friday, I could escape my home life and go to school for hours. I had wonderful teachers. I was a part of every sport and dance team that came along. There were so many things for me to go do to help me escape reality when my reality was rough.
My family did not go to church, but if I could arrange for my own ride, I was allowed to go to choir practice Wednesday nights, and church Sunday mornings. I wish there were other programs available to youths, because if there had been, I would have gone to them too.
As adults, sometimes we forget to structure “escapes” for ourselves. I am not of the notion that all parents need to plan vacations without their children, but I do believe that there are things we should do to escape home life at times.
I personally enjoy my daily bible time, as well as research projects. I love a good research project to stick my nose in.
5. Jesus loved us
This we knew. For the bible told us so. (You get the idea.)
Remember how amazing it was as a little child to know that the Creator of the universe loved us each as individuals?
When did that stop being so amazing? When did that stop being enough?
6. Everything was so big
We didn’t have computers or the internet. I was not allowed to watch TV, and only once a month (if that) I was allowed to say “hello” to Grandma on the phone. That was it. My town was my world. It was a long ways to drive to the grocery store–and that was a big deal.
Now with the wonderful addition of all our technologies, everything is closer. The world isn’t as big. When we’re adults, we no longer care about Jupiter or Saturn. The world becomes smaller–it’s just not as, well, amazing.
When things were big, they were amazing. God used to be big. He used to do big things.
When did God get small? When did He stop doing so many big things? When we stopped looking for Him in everything? Did our internet, phone, and television technologies become our Tower of Babel?
7. We believed the world was good
Even though bad things happened, I think most children of my generation or older really thought the world was amazing and big and good. It was easy to be in a world that was good. It was enjoyable. It was fun. We were happy about it.
I have a couple of news sites on the internet that I use to keep me updated on the world news. This world is not good. Only God is good (Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19). It’s hard to be here sometimes, you know? When all I want is for all this bad to go away, and for all that good to come down here.
It’s essential to focus on what is coming Friends. Because God never lies. Jesus said He was coming back, and that needs to be my focus.
8. We were not worried about what other people thought about us
Anyone with babes and toddlers around gets this–they just do the craziest things. And you have to laugh–because you know that they don’t care what other people think. They know who loves them. They know they won’t be judged by their family. And they do what makes them happy. And they express their happy.
As adults, we often worry about what other people think of us. Have you ever received really good news that makes you want to jump up and down and dance for joy? If you are home, maybe you do. But if you’re at the supermarket, then perhaps you just smile.
When we are three, we just want to wear clothes–we really don’t care what they look like as long as mom and dad said they were appropriate. And we certainly don’t need make-up or a different color hair. Can we say the same things now?
Sometimes we just need to focus on who loves us, and trust that God isn’t judging us for the silly, childlike things that we do. Maybe He even giggles the way we do when toddlers do their cute little things.
What do you think Friends? Do you think we could be happier if we just got back to these eight basics? If you are strong in one of these areas, I’d really like for you to share your encouragement with other readers.