Hey you, I think you should allow yourself to be a little more naive! What? Are you mad? In a world of ever more sophisticated marketing and fake news, I should be more naive? What an outrageous statement! Well, it’s not that simple. Let me elaborate.
The way I see it, naivety is among the most underappreciated virtues of our modern world. Most often it’s not even seen as a virtue, but rather as an annoying tendency of our characters we’ve been carrying along since childhood. Not a surprise, given how we tend to treat it. “That will never work, you’re too naive!” – heard that before? “I was messing with you! I can’t believe you bought that!” – sound familiar? Experiences like that can leave deep scars, reminders of pain that can make us despise our naivety. Curse it if it makes me so vulnerable! As a result, most people don’t want to be naive – not if it means being easily fooled, abused and ridiculed.
To an extent, we’re right. We should question the world we inhabit and listen to ourselves rather than buying into everything we’re told. It’s what makes us mature and responsible human beings who can lead meaningful lives. The tendency I observe, though, is that as we neglect our naivety, we close ourselves off to a crucial part of our being. I’m talking about our inner child, the innocent you from back then, who looks out at the world with wonder and amazement. It got hurt, time and again, until you decided to hide it most of the time. And I feel like that’s such a shame!
There’s immense beauty in staying naive and keeping a part of that childish innocence. You probably know some people who live with their hearts wide open – shining eyes, a deeply honest laugh and a strong sense of excitement. We admire them for being so carefree and alive, puzzled by how they can live this way. Instead of concluding that some people simply are like that (and we’re not), I would like to suggest that we have the power to manifest this quality in ourselves. And here we are back to naivety. It takes courage, trust, commitment and a whole lot of self-love, but it’s possible.
I know it’s possible because it’s something I’ve been working on for myself for a while now.
Looking back at my life, I always had a strong connection with my inner child, but still closed myself off to an extent after several experiences of being hurt. Now I can feel it returning to the surface, and with this piece of text I want to share my appreciation for this inner development. Sometimes, I’m made fun of because I easily believe what people tell me. But instead of seeing it as a weakness, I like to look at it as a fun reminder not to take myself so seriously. It helps me laugh about myself, and it makes me feel light – all the proof I need to know that I want to continue that journey.
Another obstacle I had to overcome was seeing naivety and skepticism as opposing forces: “I blindly accept whatever comes my way” vs. “I question everything I experience and don’t believe anything without super-solid proof”. Over time I came to appreciate a different perspective. The way I see it now, these two traits are applicable to different aspects of our selves: our sense of being and our mind. We can be open and ready to embrace every moment from our core while thinking skeptical thoughts. We can maintain our naivety in the moment while questioning information that seems fishy. Being naive doesn’t have to mean we make ourselves vulnerable to abuse. We can be 100% open and impartial towards people, and if we sense a bad intention, we simply pull away. We can let ideas touch us, feel how it would feel if they were true to us, and then decide if we want to believe in them. Have the courage to trust your gut. It’s a subtle distinction and a delicate balance, and it makes all the difference.
How do you feel about naivety after reading all this? Has your perspective shifted?
If you actively want to bring more naivety into your life, here are 5 questions that might help you on the way:
- When was the last time you tried something completely new and unfamiliar?
- How often do you stop to appreciate the beauty of something throughout a regular day?
- When someone tells you a story, do you generally assume they speak the truth or are you rather skeptical?
- A stranger approaches you on the street. What is your first assumption?
- Are you easily excited? What is it, that holds your excitement back sometimes?