Be More like Babies & Live Happier

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:

That's me.

Strutting my stuff.

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Aside

Friendship and Holding the Mirror

“Stay together friends. Don’t scatter and sleep. Our friendship is made of being awake.” -Rumi

The more awake or aware we are, the more likely we are to act and live in alignment with our highest self, the part of each of us that remains true to our values and loves unconditionally. The beauty of  friendship is that we can help each other achieve awareness by holding the mirror of truth for the other to gaze into. This mirror is not the kind that hangs on the wall, but a metaphorical one, which we can create by reflecting back to our friends what we see, so that they can see it too. There are often blind spots in our own mind’s perspective; fear, insecurity and shame can cause us to avoid facing the truth or reality of a situation. Although it can be painful to see or hear the truth, it is the only way we can reach acceptance. And acceptance leads to more inner peace and calm. That’s why our friends’ perspectives can be so beneficial to our personal growth.

Holding the mirror for a friend can be a bonding exercise for both people; it builds trust and deepens the friendship. You will find solace in knowing that they will do the same for you when you are seeking clarity about a situation. Disclaimer: mirroring only works if your friend asks you for advice or input. If they don’t ask, only follow steps 1-4 below.

How to Hold the Mirror in Five Simple Steps

1. Listenpay attention, be patient, don’t interrupt 
2. Validaterepeat what you have heard back to your friend. You can start with “What I hear is…” or “I understand you feel…”
3. Ask Questionseither for clarification or to pose another perspective your friend may not have considered. (Repeat step 1).
4. Offer Positive Reinforcementtell your friend what they did right in the situation or acknowledge their bravery in trying to solve a problem. This not only builds trust, but also confidence and self love. All beings grow with love.
5. Share Your Perspectivenow that you have gathered the details and understand the emotions your friend is feeling AND they have asked for your input, share your honest perspective or thoughts on the situation. Is there another way to look at it? A solution your friend isn’t able to see? A possible positive outcome?

On Looking in the Mirror

If you are the person on the receiving end of the mirror (the one seeking input), keep in mind it is always up to you to decide what your truth is. If your friend’s perspective really doesn’t resonate with you, you can politely disagree or choose not to take it to heart. Ultimately, you decide what action to take and what to believe. By trusting yourself to decipher what feels right, you are able to stay open minded to seeing things from a new angle. Believe in yourself. You are much wiser and stronger than you realize!

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Homework

Try holding the mirror for one of your closest friends and take note of how it feels. Do you gain something from it as well? Write a paragraph about the experience and what you learned.