01/19/2012 01:19 pm ET Updated Mar 19, 2012

Want to Feel Happier? Enjoy Childish Pleasures

My children make me happy for many reasons, of course. But it strikes me that one reason they make me happy is they encourage me to engage more deeply with the physical world.

Left to my own instincts, I'd drift absentmindedly through the apartment, reading, writing and eating cereal for dinner every night. Through my daughters, I become much more alive to ordinary pleasures -- the comfort of our weirdly-soft fleece blanket, the vanishing sweetness of cotton candy, the textures and colors of the Play-Doh, scented markers and velvety pipe cleaners left scattered around the kitchen.

I'm trying to push myself to enter more deeply into childish pleasures. I love blowing bubbles, but I haven't blown bubbles in a long time. I delight in looking at new boxes of Crayons and magic markers, but I almost never do any coloring myself. I've never used our cunning set of animal stamps.

I do make good use of food dye and sprinkles, however. I use any excuse to pull out our food dye! We have a giant box of sprinkles, colored markers that work on food, sugar crystals, rainbow nonpareils and the like.

I get so much pleasure from turning vanilla yogurt into a rainbow confection that I'm trying to be more aware of other opportunities to enjoy childish pleasures.

How about you? What childish pleasures do you enjoy, or wish you took the time to enjoy? Skateboarding, jump roping, shooting hoops, playing jacks? A 40-something friend told me that whenever she and her three sisters get together, they play four square. It made me so happy just to hear that.

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