Are you looking to add or rediscover joy in your life? Think back to what excited you when you were around 10 years old. What gave you that buzz, got you jumping out of bed on a Saturday morning, engaged you so much you didn’t care if you ate or missed your favorite TV show? Was it making homemade Christmas gifts, ice skating, exploring the outdoors, baking, or building?
Around age 10 my husband, Frank, disassembled the new bicycle he’d gotten as a birth-day present. Frank’s father was upset, but he shouldn’t have been. Frank put it back together again. He was what Bruce Grierson, a social-science writer and author of the article “The Rule of Age 10” (Reader’s Digest, October 2019), calls a tiny superhero, at the apex of his power. All these years later, Frank still can happily spend hours in his workroom puzzling over how things are assembled or delighting in fixing things. It’s his thing.
Grierson writes that age 10 is “a developmental sweet spot; at 10 you’re old enough to know what lights you up, yet not so old that well-meaning adults have extinguished that fire by dumping more practical and realistic options on it. Age 10 contains, in a sense, our source code.”
It’s at this young age that our political opinions form, we fine tune our tastebuds, and pro-fessional athletes choose their sport.
Were you into sports, crafts, or organizing get togethers with friends? Were you happiest while reading, enjoying music, catching frogs and turtles, or dancing? If you can’t remember yourself at age 10, ask a sibling if you have one, or another close friend or relative who knew
you. If you’re lucky enough to have photos of yourself at that age, look at them searching for happy memories.
I dug out photos of myself at ages 9-11 and found several of me interacting with pets, in-cluding ducks. Hatching and raising ducks continues to bring me joy. I also discovered several copies of poems and stories I’d written at that age. I can still remember the thrill of the summer day when I poured myself a glass of orange Kool-aid, grabbed a notebook and pen, and sat under our sprawling elm tree in the back yard to write a book called “Miss PJ.” P.J., which stood for Pajama Jane, galloped around on her pet giraffe.
Grierson points out that adjustments need to be made—think substituting galloping on a giraffe for the more realistic riding a horse—but if you’re looking to lift your spirits, simply look back at the person you were when you were 10. Honor the interests, impulses and passions you had as a youngster. Chances are the pet giraffe that brought you joy back then will do so again.