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Lighthearted life lessons from a 2-year-old girl

My daughter Makenzie turned 2 years old yesterday.
As her Dad, there is a lot I hope to teach her as she grows. But in reflecting on her first two trips around the sun, I realize there is a lot I have already learned from her. So, in celebration of Makenzie’s second birthday, I would like to share a few life lessons we can all learn from a 2-year-old.
First, start each day with a smile.
One of my greatest joys each morning is seeing my daughter’s infectious smile. It is hard to start the day in a bad mood when my first human encounter is the beaming, squinty-eyed grin of an energetic toddler.
Which leads me to lesson number two – joy is contagious, so spread it to others liberally.
The attitude of a heart will naturally spill over to the people you come in contact with. So when your heart is filled with joy, let that gladness overflow with kind words and generous actions towards others. Share a hug, indulge in a good belly laugh, and set out each day to bring a little sunshine to someone’s cloudy day.
Next, never be afraid to color outside the lines. It will always brighten your world.
Makenzie is learning to color, but as a toddler, it really is more like Picasso – abstract colorful lines and blobs on a sheet of paper. The boundaries presented by pictures don’t really constrain her art.
As we get older, though, the boundaries of expectations and what should and should not be possible constrain our pursuit of our dreams and passions. Living in fear and hesitancy inside the confines of the “possible” dampens the vibrant masterpiece the Lord wants to make of our lives.
Instead, paint the world around you with broad and dynamic strokes. Don’t be afraid to take risks in order to achieve the “impossible” dreams the Lord places in your heart. It is these expansive strokes from the imaginative hearts of dreamers that He can use to change the world.
Fourth, open your eyes wide and take in the world with wonder.
It is so much fun to watch Kenzie explore with great curiosity things that “grown-ups” might see as mundane. With wide-eyed amazement she takes in the intricacies of a flower, its scent and feel, and with unbridled imagination she shares her “cupcakes” from an empty pan in Grandma and Grandpa’s kitchen cabinet.
Everything is new to her, and an opportunity to learn. Little things we take for granted – rocks, dirt, sunshine, grass – can easily fill a curious toddler’s heart with glee. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all remember to appreciate God’s creation with the same wonder a toddler has?
Finally, always carry a song in your heart; and when you do, it’s okay to sing it out loud and dance to it like no one is watching.
Kenzie loves music. She finds joy in playing any instrument she can get at her hands on, singing in two-year old language any song she knows, and wiggling her hips to any lively tune. What other people think doesn’t matter a lick.
Sadly, though, as we “grow up,” impressions begin to matter far more than they should. What people will think keeps us from “living out loud.” We start to live more inwardly, ashamed of what might happen if we express the joy God has filled our hearts with. The spark begins to dim, and eventually the song in our heart falls silent.
So when the troubles of life have you down, take a few lessons from a child.
Sing, smile, laugh, hug, dream, love with abandon, and live a life filled with joy, curiosity and wonder.
After all, life is beautiful when we see it through the eyes of a child.

Daniel Kiewel is a running coach, graphic artist, proud resident of Great Bend, and most of all, a husband and father. He can be reached by email at