Joy comes easily to children.
Little, simple things clearly bring children joy. Running, playing, coloring, singing, babbling incessantly after they learn to talk. They do all of this with reckless abandon and pure, unadulterated joy.
Why is this important? Because this simple joy gets devalued over time. Children are taught to consider their actions, to compare themselves to others, to try to be better than – or not as foolish as – others around them.
Just for clarity’s sake, this statement is not anti-merit. There is a tremendous amount of value in striving to be good, skilled, and to achieve. Some people are better at certain things than others. What I am talking about here is more about self-consciousness.
As we get older, we consider how things we do will make us look to others. Simply joys get rejected because we think they make us look weak, foolish, childish, uneducated, or what-have-you.
Again, this is not to say that sometimes things do become foolish, childish, or whatnot. But the things that bring us joy shouldn’t be rejected because they are simple and perhaps even silly.
This is part of the problem we face. Over time, if we believe in ideas like “simple minds, simple pleasures,” joy gets lumped into that. And then we move along and ignore joyful things that ultimately empower us.
This is the downside to social interactions and education in many ways. We reject inherent knowledge and instinct for research, analysis, and complex ideas.
The one need not replace the other. They can coexist side-by-side. Yet somehow, along the way, the older people get the more they neglect and reject the simple joys of the everyday.