Reflecting on various life experiences, It occurred to me that we are all more child-like in regards to areas and situations that we are unfamiliar with. Simply put, without a prior body of knowledge in a field, every new piece of information is far more interesting and significant, much like it is to a kid. Indeed, when encountering new experiences, time passes more slowly. Perhaps time passes quicker to an adult by sheer sameness of events, with nothing to really mark time.
Take for example, going on an adventurous vacation to a new country. After two weeks, you have experienced so much, it's like those two weeks were longer than two months of the regular daily cycle of events. Or take moving away from home to attend university. That first semester at university, no doubt, seemed longer to you than your whole last year of high school, by sheer number of new things encountered.
There are of course the inevitable physiological changes that occur in the brain over time. However, in terms of how we perceive things, it's almost as though the entire difference in adult versus child behaviour can be explained by the weight of experience vs. the impact of new events. Let me try to explain some of the things I see as different between children and adults, and explain them in terms of accumulated experience.
An adult will have many bits of information in their brains already, and already has a working set of facts in their heads that they may consider adequate - being 'set in their ways'. The child on the other hand does not have a sufficient working set of knowledge to make it through life, and is thus more interested in grasping at any new sort of knowledge. The usefulness of knowledge can't be established ahead of time, so anything is interesting.
Without a lot of facts to weigh new 'facts' against, the child is naturally more gullible. The adult may be just as gullible in fields that they have no knowledge in, but the adult is more likely to avoid dealing with fields of knowledge that may lead to embarrassment.
Capacity to deal with short-term adversity
An adult will have many experiences of success and failures to weigh temporary setbacks against, whereas a child does not. Thus, temporary adversities are not necessarily recognized as such, and so seemingly trivial matters can lead to despair.
Perception of time
A year to a child may seem like a decade to an adult. The perception of time has much to do with the amount of new things experienced in that time. As a child does not have as much experience, there is a lot more 'newness' in a child's life than there is in an adult's.
Sometimes people say, they'd love to be a kid again, and all that. Of course, they probably really wouldn't want that, no more than they wanted to be an adult while they were a kid.
Still, as adults, we don't have the sense of wonder and amazement that kids have. Perhaps its not that we don't have the capacity for it anymore. Perhaps it's just that we chose not to get ourselves into situations that lead to it.
And the way to address it is very simple. Experience something new, and you will regain some of that sense of amazement and wonder. Take up a new skill or hobby, or visit a foreign country. Of course, you may not like the idea of doing something you are not good at, or getting into situations that you can't predict. And there's the rub - perhaps we haven't so much lost our sense of curiosity and wonder. Perhaps we just learned to avoid it!
To my rants page