I was doing some spring cleaning in my office today when I noticed a small, worn book that carries a big punch. Nestled among more contemporary works from John Maxwell, Steven Covey and Malcolm Gladwell was a bestseller from 30 years ago, with advice that surpasses all the gurus of success. I set aside my busyness with a cup of coffee to read the entire book.
Three decades ago, Robert Fulghum wrote All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten. In this collection of life stories, he shared “uncommon thoughts on common things,” with principles that are so simple, yet too often forgotten as we search for more complicated answers in our insatiable search for self-improvement tips. Fulghum was so right…wisdom is not found in higher education, leadership development courses or self-help books. It is found in “the sandpile at Sunday school.”
As we strive for a flourishing life, let’s keep things simple as we return to the basics, the things our parents and teachers taught us when we were young, impressionable, and dependent on their wise guidance. The good old days of The Golden Rule, boundaries and respect. The times when life was not so hectic, but instead full of wonder. It’s really not that difficult to find deeper meaning in life when you focus on Fulghum’s advice.
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don’t hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- Clean up your own mess.
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
- Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
- Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup—they all die. So do we.
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned—the biggest word of all—LOOK.
Living a good life comes down to these simple lessons. It doesn’t have to be complicated, does it? Be generous, kind and respectful. Practice self-care, play a lot and never cease to experience wonder in little things.
I think I’ll keep this little book in a prominent place on my desk as a reminder to approach life like my grandchildren, with childlike awe and unbounded love for the world.
Cheers to living like a 5-year-old!