We come into this world as tiny babies, breathing softly, sweetly, and deeply. Occasionally, we open our eyes to smile or check out our new surroundings, and feel a sense of wonder in every new sensation. We find and seek comfort and love with our caregivers, and our only choice during that short and fragile time is to trust that our needs will be met.
As we grow, we learn how to navigate through the world by crawling, walking, skipping, jumping or running. In our natural ability to adapt to our surroundings, a shift takes place where the newness of life suddenly becomes fun and exhilarating! As children, we are eager to explore our world and can easily find fun in almost all that we do. An activity that seems simple and mundane to an adult, such as throwing a ball back and forth, could induce fits of laughter and non-stop smiles for a young child.
Watching my daughter as she plays brings me right back to that feeling of pure joy and excitement that we all felt so easily and often as kids. When children play, they aren't thinking or worrying about what's coming next, or what happened before, they are just having as much fun as they know how to in each and every moment. Their focus is on laughter, fun, joy, excitement, and on fully experiencing NOW. They are fully present in their bodies and surroundings as they naturally breathe deeply without a thought, all the while delighting in the gifts that each new moment has to offer them.
What does it look like to be completely present in the moment? Watch a child play or learn something new, and you will see it clearly. Kids - especially babies and toddlers - don't get so hung up on what he said or what she did or what they thought, they just naturally aim to enjoy life in their own unique way. They are not worrying about what's for dinner, what they're going to do tomorrow, or why this person or that person was sad or angry before. They have moved on from yesterday afternoon, and they are naturally living the only moment that is currently available to them - right NOW!
As you see these interactions, it's easy to notice that the majority of kids will be having a grand old time even sitting in a shopping cart, waving at strangers as they are towed up and down the aisles of a supermarket. Grocery shopping is so much fun to them, too, but I know many adults who loathe the thought of having to pick out food for the week, and even more so, some who worry about how to pay for that nourishment they need.
Somewhere along the way, many of us lost sight of our purpose and became caught up in our conditions so much that life seemed to turn more towards stress and less towards fun. We worry, and in worrying, we lose our ability to trust that our needs will be met. This lack of trust and disbelief in life's pleasures easily sweeps us right into the worries and chatter of our mind, while robbing us of the many exciting opportunities that each moment has to offer. We become bored, stressed out, frustrated, and even fearful or exhausted.
I very often hear, "I wish I had an ounce of that energy," in regards to my daughter's natural zest for life, for people and for her world. But, I myself am sometimes met with a puzzled look when I express genuine excitement about something, because as adults, playful enthusiasm can seem "childish" and, therefore, insincere.
I promise, LIFE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EXHAUSTING. Life is supposed to be EXCITING! It is easier to be joyful and playful than it is to be stressed out and worried. Not only is it easier, it feels better, too!
My daughter has been my greatest teacher in life. She easily brings me back into the moment by tugging on my shirt and demanding that we make up silly names or play hopscotch in the driveway. It's still possible to regain that sense of excitement and love of life, even for those of us adults who do not have that in-your-face alarm bell saying, "HEY, check back in to NOW and have some fun with me!"
Starting out small is what changed my world for the better. Finding something easy to appreciate and letting that be the child tugging on my sleeve in as many moments as I could is what made the next moments more desirable and enjoyable for me. I found myself appreciating 10 things from my day before I fell asleep at night, and then I woke up the next morning in a better frame of mind to appreciate more and more and more of what's to come.
Appreciate 10 things. If you can't find 10 right now, appreciate 1. I promise, tomorrow you will be able to find more, and as your momentum of appreciation grows, your life will appreciate in value and in joy.
Being present and finding joy in this moment is where we are naturally meant to be. This means letting go of the negative ramblings of our minds, taking a deep breath, looking around into our experience, and finding something that brings us joy, even if it's something as simple as our ability to turn our lips upward into a smile, or to wiggle our toes and stretch our feet.
What I wish for all of humanity and truly believe is possible is that we may find a space, in as many moments as we can find, where we can appreciate even just one thing that makes us truly, purely happy, so that we can also easily remember the excitement and purpose of being alive, here and now. Let go of your heavy thoughts and make space for the lighter, happier ones. Bring out your inner happiness and let it shine.
So, what excites YOU? Find it, LET YOURSELF FEEL IT, and enjoy your moments as much as you can!
Jackie McLaughlin is a Reiki Practitioner, Wellness Guide, and founder of The Healing Crow in New Hampshire. Her focus and joy lies in guiding her community towards self-awareness and self-love. Jackie truly believes we are all in this together. More information regarding her background and beliefs can be found at www.thehealingcrow.com