The other day my wife, my 3 year old son and I, went on a couple of car-related errands. First we had to pick the car up from a workshop, where our son gazed in amazement at the cars up on hydraulic lifts, and the mechanics asked him if he wanted to come and work with them for a few days.
Then we headed to the MOT/annual car check station, where we drove through a a huge warehouse having our headlights, indicators, brakes and so on checked, the highlight for our son being when one of the inspectors went down under the car and started rattling around the suspension and drive shaft.
All in all it was a pretty exciting day for a car-mad 3 year old boy.
Later I asked him, “which workshop did you like best, the first one with the cars up on the lifts or the second one where they did all the tests on the car?”
To which he answered, “Both!”
Aha! I remembered! For 3 year olds, where agreeable things are concerned, there is no “better” or “worse”. There is just good and good!
Along we come as adults and start introducing ideas about what is better, and therefore what is less good. Sooner or later we all end up with marked preferences, which means there are things we like more than other things, and when we get the ones we like less… we are less happy.
Sometimes I ask my son, “which is your favourite colour?”
To which he usually replies, “Yellow! …And blue, and green, and red!”
Everything is favourite! Everything is great, everything is fine! No dichotomy, no duality, everything is just perfect. How can you not be happier living like that? There is so much to learn from 3 year olds!
I’m going to see if I can remember not to ask him questions about what he likes better any more. Long may he enjoy life where nothing is better than anything else, but all is agreeable and fine. There is much happiness there.
3 thoughts on “3 Year Old Zen Masters”
It seems we spend our live un-learning happiness…
When my son was small in his colouring book he would use all his colouring pencils to colour a cowboy’s clothing, on a black and white drawing. Then suddenly he used one colour and then grew too old for colouring books! I often wondered whether the multi coloured hue was what he actually saw and then he just saw the one colour. Perhaps we are programmed to be selective.
Thanks Ian and Jenny for the comments.
@Ian – yes, we spend a long time unlearning happiness, probably from about the age of 5! Luckily, we can get it back again!
@Jenny – That’s interesting – how wonderful that he saw the world in so many colours to begin with! I think you are right, we become more selective with time, which is probably useful in the long run!
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