Friday, February 22, 2008

Your Inner Child

Ever watch a child dance, eat, play or do just about anything? Most of the time, in young children, there is a freedom associated with everything they do. They don’t care who’s watching, what people think, or the consequences of any of their actions. They just worry about one thing in life and that is to do whatever it is they are doing right then in that moment without judgments of any kind. What freedom!

But when does that stop? Our first day of school? When we turn 13? Does the process of editing start the first time our parents say “no”? One of the best skiers I know, John Egan, was asked once -- after flying down a mountain like nothing I had ever seen before -- how he’s able to do it? He said, “My parents never said no”. The great painter Pablo Picasso once said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child”. Michelangelo said in his late years, “I am still learning”. It seems as though there’s a pattern. To succeed, we must find the balance of living our lives in society, conforming to the constraints and responsibilities of life, and yet live it in the most childlike innocence possible. If we would start to look at life through the eyes of a child, nothing would be impossible, we could do anything. There would be no judgment, either of ourselves or from others, and we would enjoy each moment in the present.

I’m telling you it’s possible. It’s a personal decision we can each make.

A centurion woman once said, “Nothing I ever worried about or stressed over, ever amounted to anything”. The test in life is to get to the end and look back and smile and be able to tell ourselves we did it, and we did it right. If we could figure out how to reintegrate a childlike exuberance into our daily life, we would begin to look at problems, not as problems, but as opportunities to become better people. Many of us have lost that child we once were; we call it growing up, becoming adults, but with each day we adhere to that old way of thinking, we become less and less open to the possibilities that lie just outside our own little bubble. What if in one little way, each day, instead of placing judgment on a situation, we opened ourselves up to the possibilities in life like a child? What if we didn’t worry about what others think of us or if we are doing it right? What if we danced like nobody was watching? What if we just focused on the single task of accomplishing the thing we started just for the sake of doing it; no agenda, just to do it? I dare say we might, as adults learn to think more like a child, to see the world for what it is, a place where anything is possible, a place where, in that process, greatness and personal peace is achieved.

26 comments:

Amit said...

Tony,

What you say is very true. This was not the first time i read about this argument but while i was reading i wondered if there was a difference between child-like innocence and immaturity? In my life of 20 odd years i have seen two types of people. Ones that are carefree, curious and boundless; and on the other hand the ones that are immature, careless and irresponsible. Are these two types of people separated by a very thin line or is it just my (society's) perception? can a carefree person be careless?
I very much agree with the point that you make though. You are my man Tony, in last 2 months, since i started P90X, you have made a major impact on my life and my thinking. I wish someday i could get a chance to talk to you in person.

Anonymous said...

Tony, my good man!

When I first met you at one of your fabulous fitness camps, the first major impression I had of you was your unusual ability to address almost any situation--whether it be social, personal or professional--without any type of preconceived judgment, condemnation or fear. Just as an innocent and fearless child would do, you dove right into the task at hand, no matter how big the challenge. But the difference was that you delivered grown-up results in a grown-up kind of way that people could easily follow and WANT to follow. The various opinions of others about you and your work were important to you, but not so important as to hinder your progress or bruise your ego.

It was then that I realized that success, greatness and personal peace came with a special flexibility of mind and spirit, as well as the body. Tony, one of your favorite sayings: You're only as young as your mind is flexible! Never forget that one! And that flexibility is rooted in our inner child--that young little person deep inside who never died.

You know, Tony, what allowed you to leave the comfort and security of your family and surroundings some 28 years ago, pack up your belongings, and move 3,000 miles away to LA?? I dare think that it might have been the clear voice of that fearless and focused inner child telling you that nothing is impossible with the proper energy, fortitude and enthusiasm.

Almost every single day when I press play, I try to focus on that special and sometimes elusive flexibility of mind, spirit and body. Some days it seems to be a million miles away, but when I think back to those carefree, playful and long summer days so many years ago, the peace comes back and the bubble pops!

Stay strong!

Nick C.

Jeremy said...

Tony,

Spot on... It is amazing how many times we keep from ourselves from doing what we are really meant to do simply because we are worried about what others think. I have great friend and mentor who once said to me, "God did not place us on this earth to be average and ordinary".

Whether that is in health or business it is the same thing. We excell in something because we decide too, regardless of how easy or challenging it is, and regarless of what others think. I have four children, and everyday I remind myself to never limit them, for the world is their playground and they can be anything if they want it bad enough, and work everyday to get it.

I honestly feel that if we were raised close by each other we would be great friends. As it is, I will take short moments like this and time on P90x. I love your view on life, fitness, health and values. It has helped me change my life.

Thank you for being a mentor to me in my quest to win at fitness. I will acheive every goal I have and that is because your point holds true, I don't care what others think about what I am doing. I LOVE IT.

If you don't mind, I would like to read your comments to a group of friends as a reminder of what life is truly about. P90x is changing every aspect of my life, and that is a fact!

Christopher said...

I've seen this maxim presented by other philosophers, motivators, etc. The posters above are in agreement, I think it's an important value to discuss. We all want to find that happiness in our life and from most, it comes from having an open mind, open heart and respect for other value systems. Children seem to possess an ability to approach life in an innocent way. Although, if you hung out with my son for a bit, you'd probably wonder where this cute little monster came from. ;-) Anyway, I think we draw parallels to children because they are for the most part, untainted by life. We question whether disciplinary tactics are the things that cause children to become "adultized" but we have to discipline children in order to create the boundaries that are needed to become a part of the social order (of course, this is another topic of discussion).

I think what we are looking for is not necessarily to act like children but the idea that children are able to not be affected or just not have the impacts of life that we do as adults. One of the posters above see you, Tony, as someone who is a genuine person that care about people and about what people think. Earlier postings reflect this because you care about whether people treat each other well. Clearly, there are moral values that we can learn from each other in respect to what even you portray in your daily life. Funny that you come from the New England area, my wife is from Massachusetts and from my first visit there, I was struck at how uptight in general people were there. Very strange.

The balanced person, in my opinion, is one that knows themself and knows others. That is in touch with nature and everything around them and becomes aware. The greek called this "arete", in buddhism, it's called chan, and the Japanese call it zen. We see children as a reflection of enlightenment because they are closer to it than we are, since they come from being born in the state of wu wei. So we have this natural tendency to say "be like a child" or the "innocence of a child". I believe this is the right path but it is not enough to focus on the behavior of children. We can learn from them definitely, but it doesn't stop there.

Living life should be an appreciaton and wonderment that doesn't keep specific to children. Carl Sagan, in a video series about the planets and the universe had this great episode, the first one, that made me feel incredibly small. How insignificant we are in the universe as a whole, but at the same time, we are a part of a whole ecosystem within ourselves and in our inner minds. What a dichotomy of life we live!!! :-)

Definitely another aspect of life that we can't get from children but a component of life learning that we definitely can incorporate into our journey through these short years we have in this existence.

Your final message I think is clearly the best when you say, "see the world for what it is, a place where anything is possible, a place where, in that process, greatness and personal peace is achieved". Truer words could not be said, but maybe we can teach introspection beyond what we see and try to attain something that we don't understand.

Chris Ortega
chris@chrisortega.com

Dave Dussault said...

How Does One Begin?

I’m just starting week 9, wow what a ride. I wouldn’t say I’m ripped yet, but I’m definitely no longer round. When I started this program I took the fit test and failed, I mean I failed every single category. I had no business trying to regain what was once an athletic body by using such an intense program as P90X. After the first day I thought there was a good chance I was going to visit my grandmother in heaven. When Tony said, “give me an X” at the end of the program, every one of my muscles were so sore I could only give him an ”M”. Anyway, through 11 weeks, (I know I said 9, but I had the flu and then a stomach bug. Such is life with an 11 & 9 year old.) I have lived each day with P90 X like my marriage, through good times and bad I have push the damn button, sucked it up, and got it done.

Except…

I have failed, miserably, when it comes to diet and nutrition. I host a national radio show, my wife works in corporate America where when she’s “home” she commutes 4-5 hours a day and when she’s away she’s gone for up to 1-2 weeks. I have used all this as an excuse not clean out my fridge, get proper sleep, and eat healthy. I’m not talking some cult that puts hidden cameras in the kitchen that automatically release wild tigers when someone eats an extra organic rice patty. I’m talking about preparing myself, and my family, to begin living a lifestyle of better eating habits. Understanding that kids, being kids, in my opinion, should have sweets and junk food once in awhile, and grown-ups far, far less, how do I begin the process of eating better. If it's true, you are what you eat, I'm something I can't spell or pronounce.

Tony Horton said...

Wow!

I can't thank you all enough for taking the time to comment about my latest post. All of your remarks were heartfelt and honest, and really touched me. I feel honored to be part of this amazing process. Every day that I make smart and healthy choices I'm able to embrace more from life.

Peace

T Horton

Amy said...

Tony,

Amen. I was a public school teacher for 15 years before leaving to homeschoo my children. When does our facination with life in general end? When do we begin to take things and ourselves so seriously that all enjoyment is gone? Children get it. They enjoy life and each moment granted them. We allow stress to rob us of it's enjoyment. This carries over to our exerise. Children have a blast running and playing. We have turned it into a chore. If we could just follow your advice and HAVE FUN when we exercise, obesity would a thing of the past. We gorge ourselves on food that we don't even take the time to taste. We hurry through our exercise as if it's a punishment. Why not follow the lead of our children and seek enjoyment in all we do.

Anonymous said...

I made up a story when my son was very little for distracion puposes it was about a moose that lives deep inside our heart and he give us courage by singing to us a song that goes "I'm not afraid of nothin, nothin nothin" in a strange moose voice. And whats really funny was when he stated 1st ggrade before he got out of the car he said "mom I will be ok cause I hear Marvin K singing. That was the mooses name. The story goes that all children hear the singing but as we get older we stope listening to the song. So through the years I would ask "do you still hear Marvin K singing, the answer was usually yes, when he hit high school he said I know longer hear him singing when I would ask the question, Last fall he got on a plane to study in Cairo Egypt fro 6 months, when he reached Cairo, he text messaged me saying " I can hear Marvin k Ma, I will be ok"
Thanks for your words
"Maverick"

Crash said...

I think sometimes this can be turned around the other way. Instead of worrying what other people think about us and NOT doing something, I sometimes try to use that as motivation to MAKE SURE I DO something.

Take P90X, for example. I can't help but wonder if some people look at me and my out-of-shape body and think "There is no way he'll stick with it." or similar thoughts.

Well, I use that judgement to motivate myself to prove them wrong. It's another twist on your concept. Instead of "I don't care what you think.", it's a more firm: "OH Yeah! Watch This!"

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