Live Longer by Acting Like a Kid
Why Do Kids Laugh So Much?
It is commonly reported that little kids laugh 400 times a day while adults only laugh 17 times a day. I don’t know who did this research or how they did, but those are the numbers that are always quoted, so I am quoting them here.
Why do kids laugh so much? They laugh because everything is the world delights them. They are discovering how the world works and it is a source of great delight. Additionally, they laugh because they are not afraid to be silly.
I’ve seen children who are just learning to walk. They stand up--and plop they fall back on their plump bottoms. (Isn’t it wonderful how their center of gravity is such they land on their backsides and not on their faces.) Sometimes they will cry when they fall, but they are just as likely to laugh. They have just experienced the feeling of falling and it delights them.
We all laughed our silly little heads off as kids, but then we grow up, we feel we have to be dignified and serious. We stop laughing. We stop having fun.
Why Should Adults Act Like Kids?
Of course, adults have to be serious, but every once in a while, why not act like a kid? It will add years to your life and life to your years. (This is a variation of a quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”)
Longevity researchers attribute long life to several factors. Some of these factors are hereditary. Some are related to taking good care of yourself (These life-style issues are a nutritious diet low in sugar and fat, regular exercise, healthy weight, no smoking, and either no or only moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages.) These factors are pretty obvious to everyone.
However, psychological factors are less obvious. These factors include a positive mental attitude, strong social and emotional connections (friends, spouse, family), and happiness.
The research in psycho-nuero-linguistics has demonstrated a strong connection between your thoughts and your health and longevity. Having fun is part of this.
Laughter also provides great physical benefits. It provides a physical release from stress, it gives you a full-body workout, and it can actually rev up the immune system. (See Why Laughter is Good For You: Physically, Emotionally, Socially)
Declare Today “Act Like A kid Day.”
One way to feel happy is to go back to our childhood pleasures and act like a kid again. Every now and then we should declare an "National Act Like a Kid Day."
Other people may stare and wonder if you have lost your marbles. Don’t mind them; in fact, the reactions of others are part of the fun.
Here are 30 ideas for ways to act like a kid. Have fun!
- If it is raining, put on your boots, and stomp your feet in a puddle.
- If it is snowing, lie down in the snow, fan your arms from hip to above your head, and make a snow angel.
- If it is sunny, take off your shoes and socks and walk barefoot in the grass.
- Get a bottle of bubble solution and a bubble wand and blow bubbles.
- Eat a tootsie-roll lollypop, slowly licking the hard candy away until you get to the chewy center. Chew away. Or how about a great big all-day sucker. I bet you can't eat the whole thing.
- Watch a block of Saturday morning cartoons. Silly, stupid cartoons. Laugh out loud.
- Eat a bowl of Froot Loops or whatever cold cereal you most enjoyed as a kid. (Maybe the one your mother would never let you have because it wasn’t healthy. Your mother was right, it’s not healthy. And that’s part of the fun.)
- Make a chocolate cake from scratch and then lick the bowl. When the cake is done, eat it with your hands.
- Make funny faces. Let your eyes bug out, pull at the corners of your mouth, grimace in ridiculous ways.
- Sing. Sing loudly. Sing off-key. Just enjoy singing. Maybe you’d enjoy a chorus or two of the song from Peter Pan, “I Won’t Grow Up."
- Dance. Not a ballroom dance or line-dancing or any dance with steps, just free-style moving to the music. Get a little wild. You could pretend to be a ballerina.
- Tell someone a silly riddle that involves a silly pun. Then tell another one. Example: What do polar bears eat for lunch? Ice berg-ers.
- Remember the Monty Python bit where John Cleese is the Minister of Silly Walks. Do some silly walks.
- Ride a see-saw. This requires a partner so talk a friend into joining you for “Act Like a Kid Day.”
- Blow up a balloon and pop it.
- Pick a bouquet of wild flowers.
- Eat an ice cream cone.
- Throw pebbles into a pond and watch the ripples.
- Make a paper sailboat and set it sailing in some water, The rainwater flowing towards a sewer grate is great. However, if there is no water handy, use the water in your bathtub.
- Make a paper airplane and fly it. Maybe do it in an inappropriate place, like in a supermarket. (Be careful with this one. You don’t want security to escort you out.)
- Fly a kite.
- Take a ride on a merry-go-round. Just you. By yourself.
- Get some crayons and draw a picture. Don’t try for artistic merit. Draw it like a six year old would.
- Get some finger paints and make a sloppy gloppy free-form design.
- Think of a word that sounds funny and say it out loud over and over. Change the emphasis and intonation. Examples: Zippity-doo-dah, alakazam, bumfuzzle (it means confuse) or cattywampus (it means kitty-corner).
- Make noises like a train:.Clickety Clack. Whoo Whoo. Chooga-Chooga.
- Get in a kiddie pool and splash. A lot. You could also sit atop an inner tube at the beach and splash like crazy.
- Run around the room with your arms outstretched like you are an airplane. Dip to the left and then dip to the right. Say Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!
- Get on all fours and bark, pant, and beg like a dog.
- Put on a silly hat. A great big ridiculous hat. Maybe add a feather boa. Isn’t it fun to play dress up? Enjoy the stares this elicits from other people. If anyone asks why you are wearing a silly hat say, "Today is National Act Like a Kid Day.”
Do What YOU Like To Do.
In brief, do whatever you like to do. Have fun. And don’t care one bit if it is silly. Look at the above list as just a few suggestions to get you started. (If any of the suggestions made you smile or laugh, that was just a bonus.)
You could do some of these things when you are alone, but everyone has more fun when they play with others. Do all of the above activities with a young child. Tell the children it is a game. Children love games and they love silly games best of all. If you don’t have children or grand-children to play with, find someone else’s children to play with. Babysit for friends and neighbors. Volunteer at a children’s shelter.
Throw an “Act Like A Kid Party.”
You could also throw an “Act Like a Kid Party.” Everybody has to come dressed like a kid and then act like a kid during the party. Maybe they would like to bring some of the toys they liked when they were little kids. Wouldn’t this be a great way to celebrate your 50th, or 65th or 90th birthday?
Are you still in contact with your childhood friends? What a great reunion idea. Don’t just talk about “the good old days.” Re-enact them!
It’s all about feeling happy and laughing. These are two important ways to add life to your years and years to your life.
What do you think?.
How do you feel about older adults acting like a kid?
© 2014 Catherine Giordano