HJ: Our primary work in life is to reclaim the childlike joy, freedom, love and innocence that we have become disconnected from as adults. To bring these qualities back into your life and embody them fully is a recipe for deep fulfillment and lasting happiness.
8 Ways to Reclaim the Joy We Knew as Babies
By Mithu Ann Abraham
“The soul is healed by being with children.” ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Last year, my husband and I became proud parents of a delicate little baby girl. And since then we have entered into a whole new world of unimaginable joy, love, and frustration.
As we embark on this lifelong journey of being parents, I am starting to appreciate some of the simple joys that our daughter has brought into our life. Here are some of the little life lessons our tiny Buddha is teaching us on our journey as newly minted parents:
I have discovered that my new favorite thing is listening to my daughter giggle. The first time we heard it, we thought she was crying, but in fact she was laughing uncontrollably. That should give you some idea of how deeply she must have been feeling the joy.
While these gurgling fits of laughter only come around every once in a while (for she can be quite a serious little baby), when they do arrive they give us such immense joy and we always end up laughing right along with her.
It’s a simple reminder of the power of a good laugh! As adults, we’re often too caught up in our myriad of worries or troubles and the most laughing we do these days is in an “Lol.”
Find the joy in your life, let it take over, and release that joy into the world through your smile or laugh.
2. Awaken your sense of wonder.
We discovered that being outdoors leaves her in awe. Her demeanor always turns to one of calm and quiet.
She is mesmerized by the way the sunlight filters through the tangle of tree limbs and leaves on the giant oaks in our back yard or will stop mid play and look out the window at the pouring rain. She is already meditating and she doesn’t even know it!
Everyday things that most of us overlook and take for granted are amazing to her because they are new and wonderful. It’s a gentle reminder of the soothing nature of nature. It is such a precious resource in this fast paced world.
While we are all turning to apps that promise to make us happier or calmer, this little Buddha has already figured it out. All you have to do is put your phone down and take a walk outside.
3. Listen more than you speak.
Granted, baby talk is not exactly real speak. “Mama” and “baba” don’t turn into endless monologues about her diaper woes. But her mind is a sponge, and when you talk to her she is captivated. She hangs on to your every word and you have her full attention.
If we all adopt the attitude that we have more to learn from others than we have to teach them, we would probably find that the relationships in our lives improve.
4. Take risks and expect success.
She discovered crawling at eight months old, and since then she has been crawling, clambering, reaching, stretching, and scaling things like there are no limits to what she can do.
She has been on a mission to discover every nook and cranny in the house. No place is off limit. She fixes on a destination or object and she goes for it with gusto.
As adults, we see things from a different perspective and are more attuned to the dangers that she could face. We also tend to take a more cautious approach to our own lives. But there is something to be said for the confident way babies approach life at this stage.
Every once in a while, make a conscious decision to embrace the unknown, and trust that you have the capabilities within you to succeed.
5. Live in the present.
She has no concept of past or future at this stage. She feels joy fully, and feels pain fully. But just as quickly she is over the moment. If she hurts herself, she doesn’t dwell on the pain. A simple distraction will can get her back to her smiling self in a few seconds.
She also doesn’t lose sleep worrying about whether she will be having pureed spinach or pureed squash for lunch tomorrow or how many more thigh rolls she has than the next baby. She is perfectly content with everything that is in the now.
6. Love fiercely.
The love you receive from a child is a love like no other. You are hooked, from the very first heartbeat to the first time you feel those tiny chubby fingers grab onto your world-worn hands.
There is nothing like the comforting weight of their tiny head on your shoulder as they finally succumb to sleep, or the loving reach of their hands for any part of you just because they want to feel your touch. And you realize that this little person loves you with all their being.
If I could demonstrate that same level of love to all those I care about in my life, I would have fantastic relationships. At a minimum, I can practice loving my husband in the same way and we would make sure that our children grow up to see a happy and loving marriage.
7. Recognize that you don’t need “things” to be happy.
Find joy in the simple things. It is true what people say. Don’t bother buying expensive toys—just give your baby the box the toy came in.
She can dedicate a whole stretch of time to just staring at a label on an item of clothing or drumming on an empty Amazon box. Forget about what toy that Amazon box contained!
In a world where we show love and appreciation in the form of gifts, gift cards, checks, and “stuff,” we forget that the most meaningful gifts are usually those of time. To witness the sheer delight on your child’s face when you come back from any small absence is proof that they value nothing more than the simple pleasure of being in your company.
8. Move your body.
My daughter reminds me that we are born with amazing bodies that are capable of doing so much.
As someone who loves yoga and strives to be better at it, I am so envious of how limber and supple her body is at this age. She does a perfect downward dog and happy baby pose (with giggles to boot) and I am pretty sure if she were sleeping and I had to manipulate her body into every single yoga pose out there, she would be able to do it with ease.
Over time we let our bodies deteriorate. A common excuse I hear from my reluctant yogi of a husband is that he is just not flexible enough to do yoga. Our daughter is proof that anyone can do it. We just have to maintain and keep practicing and we too could be yogi buddhas! And if yoga isn’t your thing, maybe it’s running or playing tennis. The point is to get moving!
The skeptic in you will say, of course a baby can do all these things. They don’t know everything yet. They are still learning. They haven’t been hurt and worn down by real life.
And yes that is true. But then again, we as adults also don’t know everything yet either and we are also still learning.
Children are a great reminder to us as adults to keep rediscovering and growing. If we live our lives as if the world is new and everything in it is an opportunity to discover and grow, we might find ourselves on the path to a more joyous life.
Mithu Ann Abraham When she is not working on being a mother, Mithu works on her career in finance. She loves yoga, meditation, reading, writing, and anything to do with books. She hopes to keep a childlike quality always, and use her passion for books to fulfill her dream of being an author of children’s books.