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'Sometimes It Happens,' and Other Great Life Lessons From a 4-Year-Old

"Stop talking." I get this a lot. It's a constant reminder from my 4-year-old that we need to listen more than we need to speak.
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Toddler lying on floor with spoon in hand, pointing to spilled food
Toddler lying on floor with spoon in hand, pointing to spilled food

Four-year-olds have amazing insight into the complexities that we adults deal with on a daily basis. Their back-to-basics approach really simplifies concepts that we over-think constantly. Here are some nuggets of wisdom from my 4-year-old:

1. "Sometimes it happens."
Ah, from the mouths of babes. Specifically, my babe, who let this gem loose when asked why he cannot listen to me when I ask him to go to bed. Sometimes, the most perfectly-laid plans fall apart. People wander away from each other. Communication breaks down. Having the attitude that sometimes, the unexpected happens is a great way to look at things. It suggests an ease about life when everyone else is caught up in the stress of the hamster wheel. Moments where things don't go as planned aren't meant to hold us captive; they are meant to shape us into a better version of ourselves.

2. "Accidents happen, it's OK."
My 4-year-old told me this as he rubbed a container of liquid glue into my couch this weekend, with paper mashed on top for good measure. Sure, accidents happen; it's how we react to them that's key. Our reactions help define the future and set the tone for future interactions. Maintaining an attitude of acceptance will help you bounce back more quickly and come out stronger from future setbacks. The couch cushion can always be washed.

3. "Stop talking."
I get this a lot. It's a constant reminder from my 4-year-old that we need to listen more than we need to speak. Everyone wants to be heard. Even 4-year-olds can recognize this. True enlightenment comes from engaging deeply in two-sided conversations with meaning and value. The mindful practice of listening is an art and a skill to hone, stat.

4. "It's no trouble."
In my 4-year-old's mind, everything is "no trouble." His laid-back, no-nonsense approach to life really is about eliminating all the trouble by dealing with it in a matter-of-fact manner. This attitude also makes us think of others before ourselves. It's no trouble to reach out and help when you can make a difference in someone's life -- and the benefits can be great for both parties. It can be as simple as offering words of encouragement.

Sometimes things happen in life, but it's what we do afterwards that really makes the difference.

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