If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~Dalai Lama
I was traveling home yesterday with my mom and my niece. We were coming from what proved to be a successful and fun trip, and were making our connecting flight through the Detroit airport when I noticed something: Everyone was smiling at my niece. She was briskly walking on the moving walkways and noting, out loud, how “cool” the multi-colored walls looked in the tunnel that took us from one terminal to the next. We saw two little people walking, and she stopped, grabbed my hand and asked “why are they so little?” Not because she was being rude, but because she honestly didn’t know.
First, I have to say, my niece is adorable, so I could rightfully understand all of the smiles. But, I started thinking to myself, why aren’t we this compassionate towards others, no matter their age? We give children the benefit of the doubt, but why not those who are older? What happened to our ability to express childlike wonder, without being judged?
I have to say, the tunnel was pretty cool. My niece was spot on. But there was something inside of me that held me back from expressing a wide-eyed total and complete amazement. I wondered what my reaction would be to someone, around my age, for whom the tunnel was eliciting the same the reaction as my niece’s? And with total honesty, I can say, that I probably would have looked at them and thought “Reel it in, lady.”
At what age do we start suppressing our “wow” factor and start being “too cool for school?” At what age do we have to act a certain way, and ignore the childlike wonder that bubbles up in all of us from time to time? And why is it that we look at people with judgement in our eyes, when they have the courage to express what is truly inside of them, by way of sheer joy?
I had a yoga teacher tell me that I should never speak or say anything to myself that I wouldn’t say to a child or to my best friend. So, I had to ask myself, then why would I speak in such a way to anyone? Until we walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, we don’t know how we would react. So, I ask you, why would you treat anyone other than the way you would like to be treated, and why would you treat anyone differently than you would treat a child? Because somewhere, buried deep inside all of us, there is that child who expresses sheer joy at “cool” things. How many of you are willing to let her out? And, more importantly, how many are willing to let others enjoy their inner child?