I was doing some end-of-year organizing in my office when I noticed a small, worn book that carried a big punch. Nestled among more contemporary works from John Maxwell and Malcolm Gladwell was a bestseller from 30 years ago, with advice that surpasses all the gurus of success. With a fresh cup of coffee, I set aside my busyness and 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 often forgotten as we search for more complicated self-improvement tips.
Fulghum was 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 look toward a new year, 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 full of wonder. It’s 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, think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work some every day.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- 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, white mice, even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup—they all die. So do we.
- 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. 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 four-year-old granddaughter, with childlike awe and unbounded love for the world.
Cheers to living like a kindergartener in 2017!