7 Secrets to Happiness (taught by little kids)


Kids do many things right.

They do some things wrong too. Like seeing how far their little brother can fly off a bunk bed or eating a piece of chocolate dipped in playground sand.

But kids know all about the stuff that really matters to rocking life.

We try to find the secrets to happiness as grown-ups, when we fully lived the secrets as kids. We just forgot them all with age.

If we just focused on the seven things kids do really well, we could be happier, more fulfilled adults.


1. Bursting Joy

My three-year-old daughter has joy oozing out from the ends of her hair. Buying pretzels at Wal-Mart, spotting an airplane, or successfully climbing up a slide, all have the potential to build so much joy within her that if she doesn’t let out an all-out Scream-of-Joy, I’m pretty sure her tiny toddler body would explode.

Remember when you used to be excited about stuff?

When the anticipation of the upcoming day popped that head off your pillow like a rocket fueled by coffee.

Conditions don’t dictate joy. A healthy mind and heart does.

Stop waiting for the perfect conditions to let joy re-enter through your front door.

Don’t wait for joy, run full speed towards it.

2. Wild Imagination

Remember that pre-Internet, pre-iPad virtually reality we lived in called our neighborhood?

Where you walked out your front door and next thing you knew a tennis ball was the lost crystal from the King of France and you had to sail all the way to the top of the street, pushing yourself with sticks on skateboards to retrieve it, all while fighting off the wild sea monsters (aka the neighbor’s two cats Romper and Fluffy).

The silent killer of adulthood is the death of our imagination.

Imagination is to creativity like salsa is to chips.

Imagination takes guts.

It takes courage to let yourself venture into the unknown, and even more guts to lead others there with you.

Imagination is our flicker of genius. Hide that under a bushel? Heck no.

You don’t change anything encased in cold-hard-literal.

You don’t become legendary chasing after a sure thing. (tweet that)

3. Sleep-overs

Pretty sure we’d reduce the amount of pissed off adults by 23% if we had more adult sleepovers. How can you be angry with s’more mouth, lying on a sleeping bag next to your best friends? You can’t. Studies show it’s impossible.

4. The Thrill of a Gift

I remember the Christmas I sprinted around my house, holding The Game Genie for Nintendo high above my head as if I’d just wrestled with Indiana Jones and came away with the Holy Grail.

Kids have no problem fully receiving a great gift. I’m not sure I can say the same for my adult-self.

To receive a gift well you have to be present in the moment.

Kids aren’t thinking about what they’ll have for dinner or if the gift they’re giving to you is as expensive as the gift they’re receiving. No. They rip open the paper, marveling at that new toy in their hands like they’ve just discovered gold doubloons.

I want to remember how to marvel. Which takes me to…

5. Wonder and Marvel

Adults have to schedule in a four-day vacation to a tropical place, then while there, go on an expensive tour into the heart of some remote location, have the tour guide point out what we should be really excited about seeing, and maybe then we’ll let our mouth drop with awe. (if we’re not thinking about the weird bug that just flew by our head, the heat, the humidity, or how our hair looks in the heat and humidity.)

You know what makes my kids marvel? Dirt.

And double the wonder if there’s a weird looking bug nestled in the stuff.

As adults we build up so many callouses from life that we lose the ability to feel the petals between our fingers.

We need to cultivate the ability to see and feel things for the first time.

We need to give ourselves permission to stop and stare. Mouth-freakin-agape, if need be.

Within a 50-foot radius from you right now there are about 50 miracles taking place. The air you’re breathing. The flower growing. Your co-worker sending mail to you instantly through the air.

Life is too exquisite not to take it in.

You’re not wasting time by pausing and being thankful for the time you have.

6. Thirty-Minute Recess

Office chairs containing molds of our butts is the 21st century sculpture. (tweet that)

Offices need recess. That or the various cubicle Olympics explained here.

Picture yourself running around playing tag, hide and seek, or home run derby with your co-workers. The mundane could use a little unproductive, run-around madness.

Sure everyone would be a little salty and smelly when they came back in, but it’s better than overwhelming Cubicle Musk, which smells a little like a mixture of your parent’s attic, printer ink, and people’s personalities dying.

7. The Ripe Now

Kids live in the now. Adults should too.

Your “right now” is exploding with flavor like a ripe tangelo. Close your eyes and take a juicy bite.

Live for the ripe now.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or if you’re reading this through email, by clicking the comments link below:

Which of these seven secrets to happiness resonate with you the most? 


  1. Lucas

    I miss those imaginative childhood days…when the most important battles in human history took place in somebody’s backyard as we eight-year-olds saved the world from the alien invaders for the tenth time.

    • admin

      Thanks Lucas!

  2. jim

    OMG – I am lmao! No truer words were ever spoken. Spouse is a trial attorney and her “boss” does the craziest things ever – just to lighten things up. He could be fired for some of the crazy antics he’s brought into the workplace- but you know what? His staff ADORES him and they absolutely LOVE his crazy, “be a kid” kind of things – yes, even those stuffed shirts who would never dream of doing this, secretly LOVE it. My wife is a hard-ass trial attorney, very straight laced and would NEVER do this on her own. Guess what? It does her (and everyone else) a world of good!

    Great advice!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • admin

      Ha! Thanks Jim. I’ve always loved bosses who don’t take themselves too seriously and are comfortable walking around, just being part of the team. Definitely makes a big difference.

  3. Celina

    Brilliant! I teach small children for a living and this is part of the reason why. They know how to enjoy it, they have a special magic that adults lose along the way of making money to live…live for what? To make more money? Kids have an irreverent love for life that I enjoy seeing! A small candy makes them fantastically excited! Thanks for writing! I work with them to steal some of their magic or at least to try to remember mine.

    • admin

      “I work with them to steal some of their magic or at least to try to remember mine.” – love this line Celina! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  4. Megan

    This is not only true but you made me laugh so much while reading it! Thanks for the truth and thanks for bringing it in a humorous way!

    • admin

      Thanks Megan!

  5. Peggy Armstrong

    Paul, since I have known you all your life, I can say you were a child who enjoyed life to the fullest, and your children are following in your footsteps. You are so funny and wise!

    • admin

      Thanks Aunt Peggy! I always loved being able to be a complete kid while running around your house.

  6. Sam Brown

    “Conditions don’t dictate joy. A healthy mind and heart does” is so so so true. We spend way too much effort trying to get the conditions that we think will make us happy like a nice car and nice clothes but they barely have anything to do with it!

    Happiness is a choice.

    http://www.smart-twenties.com – how to make the most of your twenties

    • admin

      Thanks Sam! Well said.

  7. WhoMud, Christopher Belisle

    “Cubicle Musk, which smells a little like a mixture of your parent’s attic, printer ink, and people’s personalities dying.” This particular line caught me off guard and made me smile super bright. Love this article!

  8. Cupcake Vikki

    I have spent the past week reading all of your articles on this site and Im absolutely inspired and motivated to chase my dreams and not be scared of the unknown. Im 25 and I think that most people would say that Im living the life because I don’t have the responsibilities that they have. I assumed when I was younger that if I did things the “right” way I would have a happy fullfilling life. Although I do feel a sense of accomplishment bc I think that I am ahead of the game compared to most ppl my age but I constantly find myself being bored and feeling restricted. Its like your taught all your life to follow the social norms. Go to school and get a “good” job so that you can take care of yourself and build a life for you and your future family. Never in a million years did I think that once I finished school and got a job making good money that I would still feel a sense of emptiness and unhappiness. I tell myself every morning this cannot be life. Do I really want to spend the next 45 years of my life waiting on 4:00 everyday. Do I really want my motivation to be “man I cant wait till Friday”? I mean isnt that wishing my life away? Do I really want to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day 5 days a week bored out of my mind for the next 45 years? For me the answer is no. I want to start my own bakery and it has been a mental struggle bc Im the type of person who likes to know that things are going to work out. There is no certianty in branching out and reaching your dreams. Your going to fall, fail, and have unsucessful moments. But at the same time your are also going to have high points as well and ultimately I think it will lead to a happier more exciting life where I wake up every morning glad to go do something I love. Thanks for the motivation, testimonies, and positive outlook.

    • Paul Angone - All Groan Up

      Wow, thanks Vikki for this amazing comment! Honored that All Groan Up could help inspire you!


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