When I spent my days with five-year-olds, I was one of the most patient people in the world. Seriously, it was a gift from above, and I don’t claim to take any credit for it. Now if I would’ve taught for thirty-five years instead of five maybe my patience would’ve been a bit thinner, but regardless my ability to remain calm and contained amidst the chaos of rugrats was something that now enables me to look back fondly upon my years sitting on very short chairs and cleaning up spilled milk in the carpet everyday. So, I’m patient with kids, big deal in the grand scheme of things. It’s the adults who wear me down. It wasn’t until Jason and I identified the problem a few years ago, that I became to transform my impatience and intolerance into empathy and understanding.
It all boils down to Adultitis. So, what’s my problem with adults?
I have zero tolerance for adults who have not yet mastered basic elementary school lessons. In many cases they haven’t gone beyond 1st or 2nd grade, and I’m not talking about academics at all. It hardly seems fair to expect children to live up to these standards within the walls of the schools, when they walk out the door to a world that doesn’t consistently honor these basic principles of respect and communication. If one has not yet mastered these fundamental tenants of human interactions and relationships then he/she is destined to be “stuck” in their current state of being. They need to move “Beyond the Elementary” in order to overcome stress and acheive success. In other words, you can’t advance towards your goals with positive results until you’ve managed to get beyond your childish regime. As you know, Jason has identified the “8 Secrets from Childhood for the Stressed-Out Grown-Up,” serving as a guide to adults on how to be more childlike, living life more abundantly with less stress and more fun. I am developing a list of lessons I taught day in and day out while serving as an educator. These same lessons are ones that I constantly see adults falling short on. These lessons will help adults move from childish to childike, and there is a huge difference between the two. These childish behaviors give the goal of “being more childlike” a bad rap, and I certainly won’t have that!
Without further ado, here’s the first lesson on my list…
1. Smile and say hello.
This was a basic skill we worked on in school with those students who had problems making eye contact, with shy kids, and with ones who were too self-absorbed to really care about a friendly interaction with another person. Whatever the different reasons may be, adults have problems genuinely greeting other people and saying hello. I know the reality- you’re busy, not wanting to be bothered, and certainly don’t want to get stuck in a dead-end conversation with a “talker.” I feel the same fear, but it’s good to remember that most people aren’t that extremely out-of-touch. When you choose to keep our head down while standing in line at the grocery store you are slowly, one unconscious choice at a time, building your own island. Sure, it may seem too forward to introduce yourself to the man behind you, but it is polite and authentic to smile and say hello. I know everyone hates small talk, but isn’t it better than coexisting in our own isolated worlds? Most adults are starving for some genuine interaction and are sick of the detached bubbles they have managed to confine themselves to. It’s childish to be a scrooge. Kids who act this way look like they are pouting and crabby, ready for a nap. Adults look the same way.
You’ll notice that children are often the communication bridge between two Adultitis-ridden grown-ups. Also, the most childlike adults I know are also the ones who strike up conversations with complete strangers. After their shared five minutes, they’ve managed to brighten each other’s day through the common goodness that lies inside of every human being.
Jump off of your deserted island with a simple smile and hello. It can be a bridge to great discoveries.
(More lessons to come…)
[tags] elementary school, kindergarten, Adultitis, busyness, saying hello[/tags]