This Doctor Says They've Found The Secret To Happiness, And The Source is Apparently Toddlers

Any toddler parent may argue otherwise, but the reasoning may surprise you!
Vladimir Nadtochiy / 500px via Getty Images

When it comes down to it, what really makes you happy? Relaxing with a hot cup of tea on the sofa? Going on an outdoor hike? Doing literally nothing?

We’ve written before about why adults following a toddler-style bedtime routine might lead to better sleep – and it turns out that living with the chaotic abandon of a toddler might be the key to a more joyful life. Toddler life is literally about having no fear, drawing boundaries (for themselves) and eating what they want, when they want.

Dr Hasan Merali, paediatrician, father and author of Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish the Peas, looks at how as adults, we can learn from toddlers.

The premise of his book looks at the idea that “these extraordinary youngsters can be impulsive, yes, but with this comes a remarkable ability to take risks and ask questions—two qualities that can help us enjoy life more.”

In addition to that, in a New York Times article, penned by Dr Merali about his book he mentions that toddlers move joyfully and instinctively as opposed to adults.

The daily lives of toddlers v adults are quite different, How Stuff Works explains that: “When it comes to having fun, kids have the advantage over adults. While most adults would like to have a good time, the desire is often tempered by a competing need to get ahead in life or to get things done.

“How many times have you skipped a social outing in order to whittle away at your workload? If you’ve spent time around a kid hooked into a video game with a “to do” list of parent-provided chores collecting dust nearby, you’ll realise ambivalence about the importance of fun is largely an adult dilemma.”

Playing ends up being a luxury for adults, whereas for toddlers that’s what their day revolves around!

Dr Merali also talks about the idea of boundaries, where toddlers have set boundaries that they are adamant about. This hypothesis can definitely be proved by my toddler, who, when asked for a hug or a kiss gives a firm “no” and walks away.

Too right! My strong independent queen!

Having these sort of boundaries seems simpler as a toddler as they’re not as fixated on people pleasing, which as adults we seem to be tackling at home, in the workplace and other social settings.

But on the other hand, their emotions are BIG. If I dare give my 20-month-old a chipped biscuit, peeled banana or half a croissant rather than the whole thing, she feels like her world is ending.

Though the tantrum might seem ridiculous, it’s a very real feeling for her — so toddlers do go through a lot of big emotions hour to hour, more so than the adult (right?).

We can definitely learn a thing or two from toddlers about living a simple and therefore happy life, but we should take into consideration their very real struggles.