Childhood abounds with magic. Kids view the world with wonder, believing in trifles like a fairy who pays you for losing teeth, a bunny filling your basket with goodies on Easter morn, and a jolly old man who showers them with presents on Christmas.
As we age, we lose that sense of fascination with the world. We learn how things really work and often become too overworked and cynical to embrace childhood wonder.
While scrolling through Reddit, I stumbled upon a question in the R/tooafraidtoask subreddit asking users to explain why we stop engaging in childhood fun as we age and for tips on how to get it back.
Why We Lose Childhood Magic as We Age
First, why do we lose our wonder? Why don’t adults engage in their imaginations, marvel at the littlest things, and feel the tingling anticipation of upcoming events?
It’s Not New Anymore
One Redditor gave the obvious truth: when you’re a child, everything around you is new. It’s your first time seeing ants, a hawk, or a garbage truck. Each new school year brings a vast universe of possibilities, as does each summer vacation.
Adults, on the other hand, have seen it all. We’re no longer fascinated by things we witness every day.
Stuck in Routines
Routines put us on autopilot. When we do the same thing repeatedly, we look up and realize months have passed. Where did they go?
One user mentioned the COVID pandemic as an example. People were stuck inside, unable to have regular adventures. “Before you know it, you’ve lost a year of your life — “lost” because it doesn’t feel like you actually got to live it,” said the user.
Adults Perceive Time Differently
Many Redditors pointed to time’s relativity as a reason for lost magic. Adults experience time differently for two interesting reasons.
First, one year is a much smaller percentage of an adult’s life than a child’s. For a ten-year-old, it’s a whopping 10% of their life. It’s only 2% of the life of a fifty-year-old.
Some even said there’s a neurological reason. “The perception of time also physically changes in the brain. The more the neurons in the brain pathways get used, the faster signals travel through them. So when you get older, it’s not just time and experience; it’s also faster for those signals to travel.” offered one user.
Adulthood is Exhausting
Some pointed to the realities of life as a top reason adulthood lacks magic.
“As adult, you need to find a job by yourself, handle money, dealing with inflation..everything by yourself. It’s really exhausting. As child our parents was there to deal with our everyday problems,” shared one user.
Others said we evolved for social engagement, and our culture pulls us apart rather than brings us together, making it even hard for adults to enjoy magical experiences.
No One Creates it For Us
Many of our parents worked tirelessly to create the magic we enjoyed as children. They snuck presents from Santa under the tree while we slept, planned epic parties for our birthdays, and handled daily life tasks so we could embrace our imaginations.
As adults, we have to create magic for ourselves if we want to enjoy it.
How To Get the Magic Back
The upside is it doesn’t have to be gone forever. Redditors followed through with part two of the questions, and offered some great tips on recreating the magic, whatever your age.
Try New Things
Trying new things is the best way to create the magical new feeling of childhood. It can be something simple, like checking out a new restaurant, trying a new hobby, or exploring a new part of the city.
“Every week, I try to explore a new part of NYC as an adult I never really explored before. It really does add joy to my life,” one Redditor said.
Make the Mundane Magical
One Redditor lamented that their birthday lost its magic long ago, but another gave excellent advice for making it memorable, even as you get older.
“I try to still make birthdays special, by always dressing up and doing something slightly magical or something normally only tourists do in my city,” they shared. Planning something special gives them something to look forward to and helps recreate some lost childhood magic.
Stop and Discover the World Around You
Have you ever watched a child on a walk? They stop every five seconds, picking up rocks, watching the squirrels play, and smelling the flowers.
When did you last stop to enjoy the fascinating world around you?
Take time to smell the roses, follow the marching ants, and examine that cool rock you found. You may find new wonder in what you once thought was mundane.
Enjoy Childish Things
Did you put away your stuffed animals, video games, and stickers because you’re “too cool” for them as an adult?
Pull them back out!
“Sometimes it can be as simple as going back to things you used to enjoy even if they’re not “cool” anymore. I enjoy embroidery, stuffed toys, stickers, and glitter, painting, and star trek. I have much less time now to do these things, but it is still fun,” advised one user.
We’re often too tired after a busy day to do anything other than lounge around waiting for bed. So, we skip the interesting-looking events happening in our cities and towns, the nights out, and the weekend fun to “catch up on rest.”
Instead, say “yes.” Make an effort to attend at least one new or different thing that interests you each month.
One user said they’ve been trying to say yes to more things, like new restaurants and activities they didn’t think they’d enjoy. “It’s been fun to tap into that sense of wonder that kids have during these,” they shared.
Children don’t care what others think. They dance their tales off at music festivals, run joyously through parks, tumble, play, and engage in the world like no one is watching.
Once adolescence hits, the desire to be “cool” outweighs playful urges, and we give up fun to fit in.
Recreate some of that childhood fun by giving in to your goofy urge. Go down the slide at the playground, run down the hill, and have a dance party at home. Stop caring what others think. You’ll learn that it doesn’t really matter as you get older.
Although Redditors shared many reasons why adults don’t enjoy the same magical wonder children embrace, they also offered sage advice for getting it back.
Life is about living, experiencing the world, and making the most of your time here. Don’t let some weird sense of being “too old” hold you back.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.