Struggling with finding happiness in life? Tune out to social media, skip the epitome of incomprehensible psycho-couch-babble and go spend time with a child.

For the last nine months of my life I have been staying in an AirBnB rental in the Maya Riviera of Mexico. It is a worthy setup most preferred and conducive to constantly meeting new and interesting people and personalities. Having a steady supply of fresh people from all over the world ensures there is never a time without someone to serve as a new teacher in my life. Life is a mirror, what we see in others we are ourselves. Sometimes that can be a prickly thorn of annoyance, a lesson on what we need to work on in ourselves, and at others a wondrous gift in disguise. As with living, it is our perspective that counts most.   

There is no doubt you will get knocked down in life, of that you can be assured. The question rather is whether or not you decide to get back up. The rosy glasses through which we choose to view the world ultimately determines the outcome. At each crossroad we face this dilemma as ever present. Otherwise, life is outside of your control – don’t take the drama play too seriously. Like water in a river, learn to go with the flow. How we decide to react to our circumstances sets the path to either suffering or growth. Not many on my journey thus far have willingly chose agony, so there is still hope for those in want.

It is not common but every once and a while an adult is accompanied by a child here at our complex.  One couple, she, Mexican, he, American, stayed here for a short period; only for the female to return later for another stay, but this time she was accompanied by her eight year-old daughter, Ivanka. She settled in as my neighbor and in due time we all became friends. The daughter was extremely timid and guarded at first, taking only but a few requisite princess and tea chat sessions and gifts of sweets to win her over. As her mother was often busy, Ivanka would have no choice but to roam about the courtyard.

Other than your own rug-rats or children of immediate family, whom you are too close to and also a part of their development, it is hard to see every child with “fresh” eyes. There are so many practical lessons missed as a result. How often do you intentionally go out of your way to spend time with adolescents, watching how they maneuver their instantaneous fabricated reality, observing their selfless actions and surprising reactions, conversing with them at their level about things that interest them, or simply being in awe and wonder at their inherent guiltless disposition on seeing the world as one massive funhouse?

Much time outside while having a refreshing tropical fruit juice, meditation or soaking up some sunrays was spent observing Ivanka at play. Without any electronics or applications to steal away her focused attention and stupefy her to the world and nature all about her, I was in utter amazement the creative ways she found to pass time and enjoy her odyssey of perusal. Nothing is off limits! Kids can give rise to their own worlds of boundless radiance as quickly as an adult worries about impending bills or any other pointless trivialities. Kids are busy conquering their latest dream milieu – and its innumerable iterations.   

One evening, as her mom talked on the phone, she occupied herself at the public courtyard table where I was enjoying a cup of newly acquired chai tea shipped from India. She was carrying with her two small dye-cutout red castles, a tiny plastic princess figurine and a large stuffed pink hippo named Oscar. She was in her own little sphere; nothing could take her attention away as she transmogrified herself into the beautifully adorned princess and subsequent scenes played out for my viewing delight. The princess liked to hide inside the castles, when not lazily lounging atop the neck of her best friend for life, Oscar.  

What a wonderful way to experience life, with not a worry in the world –  gratitude for everything – as it is meant to be – as seen through the irreproachable guilt-free eyes of luminous God-like purity. As is with the perfect divine order of the universe, to kids all things in sight are enchantingly inter-connected, infinitely interchangeable: everything is faultlessly synchronistic, according to their juvenile eyes. As adults we lose the ability to perpetuate the allure and excitement, reverence for the wonderment of the omnipresent supernatural, the omnipotent attendance forever surrounding us on this spinning hot rock.

When the myriad priceless royal scenarios ran dry, off she went frolicking in the rain puddles from an earlier downpour. Nothing mattered to her at that time, succumbed by the instantaneous consciousness of excitement and untold astonishment that aimlessly splashing about in water can illicit – she was living unknowingly in the present. She was experiencing her life in the now, without a care for any distractive foreign stimuli. In sports psychology this is referred to as ‘being in the zone.’ Children do not need to practice mindfulness, it comes preternaturally. They can find untold joy in the tedious hum-drum of life.

Soon after my respite, it was time to head off to the corner market to get some sugary foodstuffs for the evening. I asked Ivanka if she wanted to join me. She finds immense happiness in helping assist others in need. I barely had finished my question and she was already bursting with fiery elation. She insisted on unlocking our front gate and opening the heavy metal door for me to exit safely in my wheelchair. Once at the store, she was unwavering about wanting something sweet. She wasted no time in finding the most decadent chocolate and nut ice cream bar in the store – while grinning an ear-to-ear smile to boot.

She was over the moon that her neighbor not only bought her small delights each day but that he also took her to the store and gave her full consideration of choice over which treat(s) she received. As she was always so well behaved, she was never in lack of favor. She was overflowing with gratitude the whole walk home; replete with absolute authentic gratefulness. We give to others in life to bring them a smile but also because it makes us happy, even releasing feel-good chemical hormones in our brain – a type of a ‘mental-gasm.’ The more you assist others in life, the better you feel. Give it a whirl sometime.

Some other days we would just chat about her day or homework or dreams of the future. It goes wholly without saying her biggest dream is to be a princess, living in an enchanting castle.  In the middle of our conversations, as soon as something caught her attention, without haste or hesitation, hurriedly she would run off with a sparkle in her eye – most often to something small an adult would overlook – such as the blossom of a new flower, an unknown bug or an impending rain storm. Nothing is off limits to the imagination of children; mysterious and otherworldly creation is always at the forefront of contingency.

As adults we have lost our effervescent God-innocence, our admiration and fascination at everything our eyes see, the thrill of new smells and adventure of new tastes, the spectacular feeling of living in a world that truly is our playground – we have lost our ability to find pleasure in living life, in appreciating the small things, in not yearning for tomorrow – in our ability to live in the now. We are too busy living in the past (depression) and the future (anxiety). We have been trained like Pavlov’s dog, responding to the bell, under the choking societal confines and rules meant to keep you a caged and obedient robot.

Tat Tvam Asi – “thou art that” in Sanscrit – the relationship between the Absolute and the individual in Hinduism. You are me, and I am you – we are the same, one shared conscious – undefined indescribable mysterious energy: God. We are all in the same boat; when the water rises, all boats rise. Children live their lives God-like, only for the present moment, able to metamorphose no end of marvel and suspend judgment enough to find the divine touch in all things. Buddhists speak on the beginners mind, being a child that knows nothing, seeing the glory of God’s existence and creation enveloping us at all times.

Children are naturally aligned by love; they are born knowing no different. Children are a by-product of what they learn and mimic from parents and peers. Over time this view becomes adulterated with the stresses and responsibilities of living in a vessel – an ethereal body covered in a meat-draped costume, on a hot boulder of magma flying through space; in a life where happiness is incessantly chased but often eluded; in an era with more wealth and access to information in all of history, yet we do all we can to avoid from plumbing the intense chasmic ineradicable depths of our heart and soul to find our “self.”

The mind itself is incapable of answering the bigger esoteric questions of humanity – the riddles of the universe are unanswerable. Dr. Seus considered adults as “outdated children.” Life does not come with an open guide book. If it did, life would be boring: one would never face challenges or obstacles that impel him to find out who he is, essentially what he is made of, or his eventual primary purpose. Neither fruitless exoteric inquiry nor intellect is sufficient; it is only through probing inspection of the heart that one can attain inner peace, contentedness, happiness. Children, with minds still unmolded, innately live thru heart-conscious, spending everyday living by way of perpetual stimuli and emotions, not intellect.

For it is through the profound innocence of solipsism, being the center of the world, that allows for the exploration of the child by dint of interaction with their environment and others, concluding that he is not the world but a part of it – his own little person. Children have no natural inborn prejudices or set ideations of things, people and places – they are pure of heart. This allows them to see others through a prism of love, ultimately teaching them that the world is smiles and laughter. Over time this innocence of sight loses focus to living life and how we perceive it; the mundane daily responsibilities of adulthood.

We are indescribably complex spiritual beings of light, living out this flash of a lifetime in spirit school on earth. We are created in God’s image of pure light, an imperceptible invisible vibration of flawless love, but the farther we suppress the self through the busyness and stresses of everyday life, the multitude of contemptible vices, whether psychological, mental, social, chemical or other, at all times losing sight of the “I” behind the “I,” we corrupt our child’s mind  – which is perfectly illustrated by Sri R. Maharshi’s instruction: “Just Be” –  therefore inflating the egoic conscious, moreover reducing our supernal sub-conscious valve, and to a great extent constricting the consummate symbiosis, the indelible connection to the Absolute source, our higher-self, our not-self, our cosmic-conscious, our super-conscious, God.

The older we get the further removed we are from the feeling of being a child awestruck by our intense surroundings. We no longer see life as simple – we treat it too seriously. We forget that we are all actors in a play of cosmogenic proportions. As you move forward, forging an onerous course on the road less traveled, the eternal quest of illumination of the heart, consider once more being a kid again, finding your inner-child, discovering your inner-Christ, your inner-God-conscious. Finding the child within will evermore reignite your soul and help you find bewilderment in everything you see and experience in life. So what if people think you are strange – the enchanting star-filled possibilities are without limit.

It all starts with being a child. What are you waiting for? Go be a child again. Your Happy Meal awaits!

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25 thoughts on “Struggling with finding happiness in life? Tune out to social media, skip the epitome of incomprehensible psycho-couch-babble and go spend time with a child.

    1. Que maravillosa historia llena de amor y pureza!! Es maravilloso Steven como captas la mirada de Ivanka!! Sin dudas una niña encantadora!! Muchas gracias por compartir!!


  1. Lee esto me hizo reflexionar que eventualmente hay veces que caminamos sin sentido, el día a día y las obligaciones te empañan el espejo, hay cosas hermosas para disfrutar así como lo hace un niño.




  2. Such valuable insight on the value of a child’s perspective….well done to Ivanka for being a helpful angel to Stephen


  3. Most excellent piece of writing…. I couldn’t said it any better myself but I don’t have that ability…You do…Well thought out piece with many truths! Thanks for posting!


  4. We must walk through life without losing the essence of our inner child, because it is its light that allows us to have the true path to our happiness.


  5. En verdad en la actualidad nos adaptado estos aparatos electronicos y hemos perdido lo que un niño tiene por naturaleza que es interactuar con lo que esta en su entorno y difícil mente una persona es muy observadora como lo eres tu. Por que eso que parece muy sencillo en la actualidad se vuelve va tan complicado.



  6. Es muy bueno saber que hay personas como tu que son observadoras en pequeñas cosas que en verdad son muy grandes y que disfrutan de esa esencia que un niño puede tener ya que un adulto pierde esa esencia al crecer y se olvida que puede tener una vida mas haya de algun aparato electronico gracias por compartir esta experiencia que haz vivido SUERTE



  7. Beautifully written, from love and from the heart. One can feel the passion in your writing through your words. Amazing story, incredible incite. Thank you for bringing so much value to us, your readers.


  8. La niña es fascinante, encontré en el cuerpo del texto una magia tan genuina y bella de lo que es el significado de la pureza, imagino a la princesa jugar con los castillos y abrir la puerta, ayuda empatía es lo que nos hace falta la humanidad, buscar soluciones con la intención de ayudar a nuestros semejantes.
    ¡Hermosa Milenka!
    Bendiciones a él fenomenal autor del ensayo.


  9. Eres muy talentoso, no solo es escribir es trasmitir la esencia de los sentimientos que te hace sentir un hecho, y eso no cualquier persona lo hace, el ensayo sensibiliza la cotidianeidad del estrés del ser humano, y lo que conlleva el convertirse en adulto, muchas veces no observamos lo trivial o lo que pensamos que es común, mirar desde la óptica que lo hace un niño o más allá de eso tener empatía y poder sentir lo que a un inocente lo hace ver el mundo tan maravilloso. Nos hace falta, pienso que nunca deberíamos perder la capacidad de asombro ante la naturaleza misma, ante los objetos que pueden tomar mil formas para aligerar un momento o situación. Muchas felicidades Steven. Bendito en momento en que Milenka y yo cruzamos por tu camino. Te apreciamos mucho, queremos que estés en nuestras vidas para siempre.


  10. As you say, in adulthood the inner child is lost, that inner illusion is lost, the surprise that everything in the world is new, magical and wonderful, the idea of returning to those places that left happy marks along the way begins to appear. of life and one longs to return to that happiness and live that feeling again… when was the last time you did something for the first time? I think my inner child is surprised by that, doing something for the first time and feeling again that inner child vibe that he discovers.


  11. Como dices, en la edad adulta se pierde el niño interior, se pierde esa ilusión interior, empieza a asomar la sorpresa de que todo en el mundo es nuevo, mágico y maravilloso, la idea de volver a esos lugares que dejaron huellas felices en el camino de la vida y uno anhela volver a esa felicidad y volver a vivir ese sentimiento… ¿cuándo fue la última vez que hiciste algo por primera vez? Creo que mi niño interior está sorprendido por eso, haciendo algo por primera vez y sintiendo de nuevo esa vibra de niño interior que va descubriendo.


  12. what came to mind as i read.
    Matthew 18:3 ►
    Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

    …….beautifully written brother…….i thank god for your beautifull vision of life an love….how you can be a vessel with your own words to others…and love an light to ivanka…..reminding uss all of our inner child that we should never let die……because if we do……then whats the point of life anyway. With out the simplicity of the true joy that children bring in to the world.


  13. Muy agradecido por este trabajo y ser testigo de la magia q vibra en cada huésped. El viaje personal evoca la magia milagrosa o los cavernas oscuras q yacen en nuestro interior a donde quiera vamos. Steven ha encontrado oro y diamantes en la quietud y la observación . Gracias por tu tiempo y por invertirlo en otros al compartir lo q has encontrado.
    La Inocencia es también un sinónimo de sabiduría y fortaleza , contrariamente a lo q hoy día nuestras mentes proyectan, Como ingenuidad y debilidad; creemos en la importancia de nuestros egos pero a estos los ocultamos de mil maneras y justificaciones. Quien puede medir el tamaño o el peso del Alma , o q es bueno y q es malo para nuestro verdadero Ser ? He visto niños q podrían recordar vidas pasadas y adultos y viejos a los q solo han pasado en el tiempo sin madurar en la experiencia y la observación, con ese Niño secuestrado en algún cuarto oscuro de su corazón. Podemos ponernos viejos y ser infantiles pero no precisamente SER COMO NIÑOS, en el Hombre o la Mujer q estamos llamados a Ser ; justificar nuestras “derrotas” porq somos viejos , pero me parece q entonces uno permanece infantil , uno se pone viejo y no madura cuando se da por vencido y no al revés. O podemos permanecer en la frescura del Niño a través de todas las estaciones de nuestra vida y estar con esa actitud dispuesta con el entusiasmo sincero y natural de un Niño q simple te ES , sin QUERER SER .


  14. A well told story of two unlikely friends giving gifts in many forms. The adventures of Steven and the princess Ivanka have warmed my heart and kindled a fire in my soul.

    Yes, to be reminded that the daily grind is what you allow it to be. It can be dull and stressful in the eye of a jaded adult who forgets the wonder of their own childlike nature lost inside. But to be free of that and experiencing each moment fresh, anew, and without judgement….that’s where I yearn to be.

    Ivanka does it with a natural gusto, and is such a perfect teacher for all of us adults! Keep up being you Ivanka!!!


  15. Le temps nous fait vite oublié la nature de ce qui nous anime et nous plonge dans les abîmes de la responsabilité. L’enfant apprend du parent, tout comme ce dernier apprend de son enfant. C’est à ce demander qui est l’enseignant de qui ? Tout comme l’infinie boucle autour d’un vecteur continue, chaque horizon prévaut d’un extrème nous équilibrant.


  16. Reading about this bond you created with Ivanka has put a big smile on my face! I’m picturing her rushing to the gate and door to let you through safely, beautiful child!

    It’s amazing how observing a child or taking part in their playtime can teach us adults to live in the moment once again. Be happy. Be kind. Be grateful.

    Ivanka, keep being the beautiful human you are growing up to be, chase your dreams with passion and I know you will always have a special place in Steven’s heart!💙

    For anyone that reads this blog, take Mr. QUIGLEYS great advice and be a kid again. If you don’t know how, the children will teach you!

    Always love your writing brother!


  17. Such a beautiful story and such a beautiful friendship you’ve formed with Ivanka. Thank you for these important reminders to be grateful for the simple things, and practice mindfulness.


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