Art Experiences

Connect With Your Inner 3 Year Old

Posted on: May 8, 2011

The best way I have found to nurture my creativity is to hang out with preschoolers. They have a sense of wonder about the world that comes naturally because they haven’t been here very long and truly do wonder about pretty much everything. Just watch a small child play with his set of little cars. He will line them up all around the room, sort them in various ways, play out elaborate scenarios with them. Take a walk with a toddler and be prepared to stop every five steps to observe a bug on the ground, chase a squirrel or touch a flower. They see everything with fresh eyes. This is what being creative is all about – seeing the world in new ways.

It’s a lot to ask of an adult. We have seen our share of bugs, read this book a million times and just don’t have the patience to sit on the floor and put together more Legos. What to do? Slow down. Just spend an alloted time, an hour, even 15 minutes, and try hard to put yourself in the mindset of a 3 year old. Just for that short period of time, forget all your adult things – forget your errands list, your work troubles, your family issues. Turn off your technology. You can turn it back on in an hour. It’s hard, but just try. Then, take a very slow walk, noticing all the cracks in the sidewalk, colorful flowers and all the tiny things around you. Shop in a store and go slowly through the aisles, looking at all the colorful products and packages. Imagine things you could do with these cans or where you can go wearing those clothes. Consider how this thing got to where it is. If you have a small child or know someone who does, spend time just playing with them, and absorb yourself in it. It will feel boring at first, but do it anyway. If you really pretend you are a small child you will find the wonder. A renewed sense of wonder lifts both your mood and your creative thinking.

Buddhists call this mindfulness or being in the moment. Three year olds are always in the moment. They are not thinking about what is going to happen in the future, or even in an hour, they are just happy to be doing whatever they are doing right now. The adult compromise to this is mindfulness. We need not ignore our future, but we do need to appreciate the present much more than we do now. We need to not rush through our days only to get to the next fretful day. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, make that the most important thing right now. Really immerse yourself in it. Use all your senses to soak up the experience.

Say you are having lunch in a restaurant. Chew slowly. Savor and really taste your food. Feel your food go into your body, nourishing your organs. Watch the people around you. Observe them as if you are observing an alien race of creatures. Try to figure them out and imagine what kind of person they are and what they are saying. Listen to the conversations around you, or better yet, listen, really listen to the person you are with. Don’t think about what you are going to say next, or the workload this afternoon, or anything else that has to do with the future. Just listen, taste, smell, feel and look.

Do we want to be three year olds all the time? Of course not. We need to be adults, taking responsibility for our actions, staying safe, planning and preparing. Just try being a three year old for a few minutes every day. Eventually you will be able to incorporate the benefits of wonder into your adult life. Slow down, notice everything, be in the moment. Your mind will thank you for it.


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Hi! I'm Susan Stein and of my many passions in life,
two of my biggest are art and children. In the process of teaching children art, I also teach them problem solving, brainstorming, inventive thinking, originality, working with others, hand eye coordination, and so much more. It doesn't matter if you're good at drawing or not, everyone will benefit from experiencing art.

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