Sad man sitting in sunset

All I Really Need To Know
I Learned In Kindergarten

           by Robert Fulghum

– an excerpt from the book, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do
and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not
at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the
sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.


Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some
and draw and paint and sing and dance and play
and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic,
hold hands, and stick together.

Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup:
The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody
really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even
the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die.
So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books
and the first word you learned – the biggest
word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.
The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.
Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any of those items and extrapolate it into
sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your
family life or your work or your government or
your world and it holds true and clear and firm.
Think what a better world it would be if
all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about
three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with
our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments
had a basic policy to always put thing back where
they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you
are – when you go out into the world, it is best
to hold hands and stick together.

This is a post on human expression and the expression that we had as children. As a child, do you remember your freedom of expression?  When you were happy, you danced around!  When you were angry, you screamed!  When you were sad, you cried!  Why does that change?

It is puzzling that we suppress and eventually lose our freedom of expression as adults.  We are typically taught to bury our emotions deep down.

Understandably, at certain times suppressing expression may be required in our society and that some unspoken rules do make sense.  For example, it’s probably not wise to have a meltdown about your horrific day while making a speech in front of a room full of people. However, we tend to immerse ourselves in repressed feelings and we do it even in circumstances when expressing our emotions is acceptable and safe.

Our emotions need a release, period.  

“Shhhhh!  Be quiet!”  “Not here!  You can’t do that here!”  “Keep crying and you will go to your room!”  Do these comments sound familiar?  I am sure that they do for most of you!  As kids, we were sometimes punished for acting out if our emotional experience wasn’t in accordance with our parent’s conventions. Why can’t we cry in public?  Isn’t crying a natural emotion?  

Research has shown that suppressing your emotions shuts down communication within that relationship.  For example, James Gross says “When we are denying our feelings, our partners probably get tense because our faces register our feelings way faster than the thinking part of the brain can shut them down. So our partner knows there is something going on when we say “Oh, nothing is wrong. I am fine.”  It takes about 100 milliseconds for our brain to react emotionally and about 600 milliseconds for our thinking brain, our cortex, to register this reaction. By the time you decide that it’s better not to get mad or to be sad, your face has been expressing it for 500 milliseconds.  We are sending confusing signals to our loved ones!  I suggest that you do not suppress what you are thinking.  “Feel” your feelings and express them appropriately to your children, your parents, your ex-partner, and your new partner.

Have you ever felt joy for more than a few minutes? What about anger? What about stress, depression, and sadness?

  • Healing is the act of letting yourself feel. 
  • Healing is the act of allowing your traumas, embarrassments, and losses into your awareness and allowing yourself to feel.  
  • Healing is the act of letting yourself filter and process what you had to suppress at the time to keep going, maybe even to survive. Perhaps the suppression occurred because you just didn’t feel “safe” enough to allow those feelings to be felt.

Anxiety arises when we become aware that we are losing control over your feelings. Your tiredness is your resistance.  Your annoyance is your repressed anger.   Your depression is your mind knowing what your body is feeling but you are not allowing it to be expressed.

Your body and mind know how to heal themselves when you allow them to.

Every feeling is worth something.  Whether its anger, joy, fear, sadness- they are like arrows pointing you to address the root of the feeling.  We can conquer fears, we can change anger into acceptance, we can turn sadness into joy but we must go through the process of feeling in order to teach ourselves how to move past the emotions, not bury the emotions.

So, perhaps all you really need to know about expression you learned in kindergarten.

Love begins with you.