I’m deeply immersed in writing a blog post for work when suddenly I hear a sound that causes me to pause. I look up from my tiny window table at the coffee shop and meet eyes with the most glowing, chubby, angelic face. She’s standing in the middle of the room, halfway between her mother and me. She smiles at me ecstatically as if this very moment is the most joyous moment there ever was; her eyes are sparkling like a lake aglow with the first rays of sunrise.
And then the sound again – it’s somewhere between a howl and a squeal and it fills the room with a burst of energy. The whole mood of the place shifts. Heads lift from computers and suddenly people are smiling and alert, looking around at one another and aware of the day beginning. A sound like that can only be the result of a soul so thrilled to be alive and so excited by the tiny details of the world around her that her delight is literally spilling over, and simply cannot be held back. Little sprays of spittle are bursting into the sunlit room from her mouth with each consecutive squeal. In her hands is a plastic cup which she’s stuffed with napkins. She’s carting it around like a dog might carry his bone — like treasure.
Now I’m alternating between typing sentences, sipping my coffee and staring back at this little two-foot-tall being who is dazzling the room with her contagious joy. She stares at me wide-eyed with a look of pure serenity and happiness on her face. I can’t help but feel what she’s feeling and I find myself smiling back at her cheerfully. The grin doesn’t ware off, even after I shift my eyes back to my screen. In fact, I feel notably lighter.
I think to myself: I want what she’s got. And then: what if adults could be more like babies?
Now I’m not saying we should all go around drooling and making non-sensical sounds in public places at one another (mainly because that would probably land you in jail, not because it wouldn’t be totally comical and even fun), but there is something to be learned from this baby’s outlook on the world. For one thing, we could all smile more often at strangers, because just this one act has the power to change a person’s mood and even outlook on the day. Did you know that humans have an incredible ability to transmit emotion to one another through our faces via a thing called mirror neurons? Mirror neurons allow us to mimic what another person emotes by merely looking at them (read more about that here).
Can we all wake up each day looking at the world as if it’s brand new and full of possibilities like the baby girl in the coffee shop does? Probably not, because we’re adults, and over time we’ve discovered that we’re flawed and broken in places, and not always capable of motivating ourselves to be our best. BUT even if you could think this thought once a week, it could foster a positive belief system that would lift you up when things get rough and create more opportunities because you are remaining open to them.
Last but not least, is the world a beautiful place full of details worth admiring and being moved by? Absolutely. There’s tragedy too – but certainly every person living in Oregon knows the miracle of seeing sunlight after months on end of gray and rain. I nearly cried at the sight of a daffodil the other day. It’s these little miracles that make life enjoyable. We can either pass them by, rushing on our way to the perceived destination of “success,” or we can pause and squeal about them, let our hearts speed up a little at the thought of spring; at the thought of all the baby birds that will be born soon and the longer days offering daylight for us to frolic in after we emerge from the caves of our offices.
It might seem like a stretch, but I’m going to say it anyways: be more like babies are, baby! And let the world see your soul smile more often.
Just in time for throwback Thursday, here’s me circa 1989: