Is it wrong to admit I’m jealous of my 7-month old nephew?
Despite being so new to the world, he seems to have happiness all worked out. He’s living the dream and his joy is infectious. Just being on Zoom with him has lifted my spirits on many grey days in the last year.
It’s made me think maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong direction for inspiration. I’ve studied the billionaires and productivity gurus but not a single one smiles as purely as a baby does.
If I could trade places with Jeff Bezos or my nephew for the day, I’d pick the latter every time. Children live by their instincts without all the societal pressures adults deal with. I’d love to be so free again.
While I’m not asking you to roll on the floor and stop paying your bills, here are some of the many lessons you can learn:
#1 Treat everything like a remote control
In 2021, we see an average of 6,000 to 10,000 adverts every day. This means we are always focused on what we don’t have rather than appreciating what we do.
Babies live in the present so if it’s not currently in their line of vision then it doesn’t exist and not something they need to concern themselves with. Luckily, whatever they have around them can keep them amused for hours.
If you give them a remote control, they act like you’ve dropped a pure gold bar in their hands. My nephew will examine it with all his senses and wave it over his head in delight.
Imagine if we acted with even half of that excitement with the things we take for granted every day. We could instead take the time to appreciate how wonderful everything is rather than always looking at the negative.
#2 Do more of what makes you laugh
My nephew has one of those balls you can squeeze and it lets out a high-pitched squeak. It’s incredible to watch him do this a hundred times in a row and burst out laughing every single time.
For him, life is simple, squeezing the ball makes him happy so he keeps doing it. Learning how to talk or walk can wait.
It’s a sad situation when people are shamed for watching ‘mindless’ YouTube or Netflix when it makes them laugh. As if they need a more serious way to spend their spare time for it to not be wasted.
If you love watching cat videos in your free time then so what? Ignore the productivity police who believe you should spend your whole life grinding away.
#3 Why don’t big boys/girls cry?
I know so many adults who spend their days busy trying to hide their unhappiness. It’s exhausting to have everything trapped inside but babies are free from this problem.
In Japan, people pay for expensive ‘tear teachers’ to help them regain the skills we were all born with. You might laugh but it is making a great difference to their lives and science backs up the need to cry:
“When you cry you release stress hormones from the body, it creates endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones, the natural painkillers in the body.” — Judith Orloff MD
You don’t need to act tough all the time, cry sometimes, it’s good for you!
#4 Fall? What fall
Grown-ups seem to be in one of two categories:
- Those who are terrified to fail
- Those who celebrate failure enthusiastically
Babies fail constantly as they are working out how their limbs move and what’s connected to what. It’s how they learn and we’re the same.
What I love is how often there’s an air of apathy when things go wrong.
Sometimes my nephew will be sitting on his play mat and reach out for a toy. It’ll be a little bit too far away and he’ll slow-motion topple over in the attempt. Then he’ll roll onto his back and grab the toy as if nothing even happened.
The first way he tried didn’t work so he moved onto plan B. I wish I could take this attitude more often in my own life instead of judging my every move. I’m going to try to move on from failures like a baby does and stop dwelling on the past.
#5 Hugs make everything better
Independence is something beaten into us as a desirable trait. People want to act like they can handle everything by themselves but we’re social animals.
Babies don’t have this issue, they’ll snuggle you at any opportunity they get when they want a bit of attention. What they are doing isn’t needy but scientifically smart.
Hugs release oxytocin and lower cortisol levels and boost our wellbeing. It’s one of the many things people lost out on in 2020 with a negative effect on their mental health.
So if you have someone around you who loves you, hug them rather than acting tough. You’ll both feel better.
#6 Listen to your body
I’ve lost count of the number of times, I’ve sat at my desk ignoring the signs my body gives me.
One more page then I’ll eat, stretch or answer nature’s call. Our body signals haven’t been developed over millions of years so we can dismiss them to stare at a screen a bit longer.
When a baby doesn’t feel quite right, you’ll be damn sure they will let you know. They react and instantly move to address the problem.
If your eyes are hurting right now then stop staring at the screen.
If your legs feel tight then get off your chair and stretch them.
If you’re feeling thirsty go and drink some water.
Ironically, we can keep our bodies in balance and babies can’t but we choose not to.
#7 Eat, Sleep, Poop, Play repeat
I’m sure I’m not alone in believing life has become too complex. I often find I have over a couple of dozen items on my daily to-do list.
It’s too much.
Though babies spend every moment learning, their daily routine is simple. They don’t sit there and block out their time to play with the bunny for half an hour then the lion for an hour.
I want my days to become more like this. There are events out of my control but most of what eats up my playtime are things I could stop if I chose to.
I’ve deleted many of the apps off my phone and cleared out online accounts I don’t need. I aim to reduce the number of soulless things that can steal my attention so I have more time to be bored.
Having time to be bored is where our minds can come alive and find ways to amuse ourselves in new ways.
Simplify your life so you have more time for play!
Created by the author — original image from Pexelbay