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Excerpted from Slowing Down to the Speed of Life by Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey. Copyright 1998 by Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Most young children, in fact, are generally unstressed, full of awe and curiosity, and rarely bored."

  Richard Carlson, Slowing Down to the Speed of Life, Part 1

As young children we were full of life, always playing or running around with our friends. We would turn from one activity to another with endless enthusiasm. Games of hide-and-seek were an opportunity for unlimited imagination, exploration, and curiosity. It seemed we never got bored or tired of whatever we were doing in the moment. For the most part, our childhoods were an endless series of positive feelings--joy, laughter, curiosity, surprise, confidence, and adventure. We had not learned yet to worry, to hold grudges, or to have regrets about the past.

Most young children, in fact, are generally unstressed, full of awe and curiosity, and rarely bored. Most have enormous amounts of energy, are unconditionally loving, and seem to have boundless energy that make adults envy their innocent approach to life. These uncontaminated children live from a state of mind that we practitioners of Psychology of Mind like to call mental health. They live naturally in the moment.

As adults we still have the capacity for mental health, but we have been socialized into the busy ways of Western culture, and many of us have grown serious, analytical, stressed, depressed, and unimaginative. Beginning when we reach age five or six, and steadily progressing into adulthood, our experience of mental health declines. This decline seems to correspond with our propensity to use memory and analytical thinking more often as we get older and our creative, in-the-moment thinking less often.

As you will see, it is not only unnecessary but actually unnatural for human beings to lose this experience of mental health. It is only through a lack of understanding about the nature of our psychological functioning that this deterioration occurs. Understanding how to maintain this natural mental well-being and our capacity to live in the moment is what practitioners of POM generally call wisdom or maturity.

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