As we have settled into our adulthood, we’ve acquired the tools we need along the way to develop into healthy, well-adjusted, high-functioning human beings.
Ones who can further pass on the wisdom to our next generation. We take pride in having better self-awareness than our predecessors; overcoming the mental health stigma and seeking help when needed; developing more love and compassion for ourselves and our fellow earth dwellers. We possess more sophisticated knowledge and speak a more evolved language when it comes to mindfulness. With words like higher self, oneness, healing, manifestation, and transformation, we seem to have evolved beyond what our parents and grandparents could have fathomed.
As your resident personal development fanatic, meditation coach and lifelong learner of body mind spirit, I often sift through newly acquired knowledge and purge what no longer serves me from my past. It became part of my personal evolution and transformation process. The more I study, read ancient literature, and integrate the past and present, the more I realize the simple, practical, and applicable wisdom taught to us in childhood still stands in our sophisticated (and complicated) modern world. It seems to me, as I look around, many adults today have forgotten these valuable lessons. As Robert Fulghum‘s 1986 best-selling book title states: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. We may have been instructed when we were children without much of an explanation, but we reap the benefits of these mindful habits we learned for the rest of our lives.
Here are my 10 favorites and why they apply to our adult life today more than ever:
1. Pay attention.
(Translation: Be in the present moment.)
Turns out we have been told to “be present” since we were kids. Whenever we were scattered, distracted, or daydreaming, we were almost sure to hear an adult say “pay attention!” This most certainly applies in our adult lives. The more focused we are in the present moment the more we will participate in flow and make the best decisions for ourselves.
2. Say “thank you” when someone does something nice for you.
(Translation: Express gratitude.)
More than just manners, saying “thank you” is a quick recognition of someone’s effort (however slight) toward kindness, letting them know you appreciate it. We have all seen those who race past us without acknowledging we’ve held the door open for them. While gratitude shouldn’t be an expectation, we understand what life is like without gratitude. We would be left with anger, bitterness, and emptiness.
3. Don’t hit people.
(Translation: Practice self-control.)
Chances are we all heard this when we were kids. It’s one of the ways kids express anger and frustration. Many adults are still learning how to identify and manage emotional triggers and control their behaviors. This straight-to-the-point command serves as a pause or a jolt for you to think twice before you say or do something hurtful. Even without a detailed explanation, it serves as an interruption to your emotions and focuses on controlling your actions.
4. Share your toys.
(Translation: Cultivate a sense of community and oneness.)
Sharing is indeed caring. While our tendency as children is to hog our favorite things so no one else can have them, what would life be like if no one shared joy, possessions, or knowledge? The habit of sharing teaches us to be a part of something bigger than just ourselves. It also teaches us the act of generosity and the joy of giving and receiving from others.
5. Clean up your own mess.
(Translation: Hold yourself accountable.)
This simple concept is the foundation of building healthy relationships as well as career successes (not to mention having an actual, pleasant, physical living space). It isn’t always easy to clean up our own messes, especially when we royally screw up and leave an expected one. All we want is someone to come clean it up for us. Nevertheless, we (and the world) will all be better off if we are each mindful of the potential results of our actions and take ownership of our own mistakes.
6. Don’t say mean things.
(Translation: Be positive with your words.)
The habit of positive thinking and speaking starts from our childhood, and we have all come to learn how important that is to our general mental health and well-being. We can all become affected by other’s words, intentions, judgments, and at times repeat them without knowing what it does to our minds. Being mindful of how we speak plants the seed of positivity as well as creates a safe space for those around us.
7. Say “sorry” when you hurt someone.
(Translation: Have self-awareness.)
A big part of self-awareness is noticing how our words or actions affect others, and we don’t often have that awareness as children (though children do have incredible empathy even though they don’t understand what’s going on). Being able to say “sorry” to someone you have hurt is acknowledging their feelings, understanding the situation and your part in it.
8. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
(Translation: Respect boundaries.)
One of the basic rules of boundaries is identifying what’s yours and what’s not—something children aren’t always good at. Learning at an early age to know the difference and that you need permission helps build the foundation of respect for yourself and others’ property and can perhaps translate to mental and emotional boundaries later on.
9. Rest your head on the desk and close your eyes.
(Translation: Be still and meditate.)
Little did we know, nap time in kindergarten was a way for us to be still and quiet our minds. I know I was always that kid who tried to talk or pass a toy to the kid next to me (and I’m a meditation coach now, go figure!). Being still isn’t easy for children, but the habit of doing so starts young. Getting a sense of taking time each day to be quiet and rest your mind and body helps develop an essential tool for coping with life.
10. Sit up straight and don’t slouch.
(Translation: Align your energy centers and allow chi to flow.)
Our adult guardians may not have known about the chakras back then, but they knew this was an important habit to have. Keeping our spine straight not only makes us appear more confident and attractive, according to Eastern teachings, it also aligns the energy centers of our body and allows for maximum energy flow. This enhances mental clarity, cell repairs, and of course, the overall longevity of our body.