The soul is healed by being with children.

I just returned from my biannual visit to Florida where I was lucky enough to spend some quality time with my one and only adorable nephew. I’ve never spent a lot of time with babies, so child development is all new to me. Now that I’ve had time to observe a little person, I’m amazed at the wealth of innate gifts we seem to lose as we grow up. Here is some toddler habits I think we adults should refamiliarize ourselves with.

1. Voice your inner desires

We tend to hold in our complaints and our emotions as we get older. This leads to poor communication and pent up stress.

Toddlers are not shy about asking for what they want. They demand by crying and screaming. They might never get what they were after, but at least they made their feelings known.

2. Cry whenever the hell you need to

Along with voicing your desires, comes the possibility of not getting them. Disappointment can be heartbreaking, but crying is taboo in our society. People think it’s a sign of weakness, and it’s a shame because crying is natural. Sometimes there’s nothing like a good sob-fest to release stale emotions and frustration.

I used to hide my emotions even from myself. I’d lose sleep, suffer stomach issues, and notice a psychotic twitch thumping under my eye. No more!

Scream, cry, punch a pillow. Throw a tantrum, compose yourself, and then continue on with life. Trust me, you’ll feel more relaxed and ready for whatever comes next.

3. Don’t be so self-conscious

Toddlers have no body shame. They’re not afraid to walk around half-naked in front of complete strangers. I don’t suggest wriggling out of your clothes and streaking through the neighborhood, but you should enjoy the body you’re in. Don’t compare your figure to anyone else’s. You are you and you are loved just the way you are. Two-and-a-half-year-olds don’t care what they look like, and they don’t care what you look like either.

4. Don’t tolerate boredom

The most dangerous mistake is to let a kid get bored. Holy crap! It’s the worst thing that could possibly happened to a child. If they’re not entertained 24/7 they will make your life a living hell. And why shouldn’t they? We only have a limited amount of days in our lives. We should protest boredom too.

Why put up with mind-numbing TV shows, books, people, activities, and jobs that only mildly amuse us? We need to go after the things that inspire, impassion, and provoke us. Keep your brain engaged, stimulated, and growing. Say no to boredom!

5. Don’t underestimate cuddle time

Do you notice when you’re with a very small child that they become glued to you? Like an extra appendage. Not only do they need you to pick them up every now and then and hold their hand most of the time; they are always climbing, grabbing, punching, or jumping on you like you’re a living jungle gym. The best is when my nephew wants to make a blanket tent and get cozy. There’s nothing more relaxing than cuddle time.

I’ve noticed that Latin and European countries are a little more touchy/feely, but physical closeness has been phased out of Western society. Studies show that touch is an important part of our well-being, so make sure you get some huggy/smoochy time in with your brood.

6. Let your imagination run wild

The older I’ve become, the more my inner party-pooper tries to spoil things. She’s the one that squashes dreams and dismisses ideas as being silly. As a writer, I’ve had to tie her up and wrap her big-ass mouth with duct tape. Otherwise I’d never get a word out.

I still have got nothing on my nephew. His imagination is limitless. I’m hoping that when played together some of his super-imaginative powers rubbed off on me.

7. Be expressive

Life is supposed to be joyful, but we grown-ups tend to be very stiff and reserved. I noticed my nephew jumped, skipped, twirled, shimmied, side-stepped, and danced. He was constantly making noises: laughing, screaming, talking, making bizarre facial expressions. He was non-stop full of life. We should be too!

Sometimes I leap across the house or execute a spontaneous yoga mudra. Occasionally, I will sing the verse of the current song in my head a top volume.

Strike a random pose in the kitchen. Bust a move when your jam comes on in the grocery store. Jazz hands people! Do whatever you feel. We are amazing incarnations and should be having more fun inside our bodies.

8. Cleave to your family for comfort

I have a bad habit of never asking for help for anything. Whether I’m having a mental  or physical crisis, I tend to insist on solving it on my own. Even when it’s something as simple as moving a piece of furniture, I don’t want to bother anyone. But why suffer alone if you have an amazing family to turn to?

When we’re babies, we have no problem running to the first family member we see to ask them a question, to help us solve a problem, or to mend a boo boo. Don’t forget your closest friends and family are there for you for the littlest of things. Ask for help!

How do you feel when you’re around small children? What have you learned from them? What can we do as adults to keep their special gifts alive?