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Wellbeing Lessons from my 8-Month Old Teacher

I am someone who works on enabling others on their well-being journeys full-time. Thanks to my team and extended communities, I am constantly exposed to multiple well-being perspectives and practices. However, I struggle to embody them always. I am only human, after all.

On the other hand, I see my 8-month-old daughter, D, consistently living in a state of well being. She constantly serves me a reminder that well-being is innate to our being. I wanted to share five well-being lessons she reminds me of daily.

Live in the moment.

I notice that D is just fully present in the here and now. She is focused on the toy or our body movements when she is playing with me. When she is hungry, she is focused on food. Her mind is always connected to her physical world and her senses. To have such a presence offers the opportunity to always live in flow.

See your world with fresh eyes

I constantly observe D marveling at the mundane. This openness and curiosity are an extension of her presence. She sees things for what they are without attaching meaning to them. Her ability to absorb and soak in much more from every waking moment is stupendous — no wonder she learns quickly and keeps hitting new tiny milestones every week.

Make many mistakes.

An essential factor contributing to her learning is her willingness to make mistakes without feeling shame or guilt. For instance, she falls at least 20–30 times a day in an attempt to stand. If she were afraid to make mistakes, she would not know the joys of walking, running or dancing! She reminds me it is human to make mistakes and that they are essential for learning. She lives with self-compassion.

Live all your emotions wholeheartedly.

D engages with every emotion wholeheartedly. If she is in pain, she cries. If she is happy, she laughs. If she is curious, she explores. There are no filters. I have never seen D attempt to avoid, suppress or escape an emotion she is feeling. The best part is she doesn’t hold on to any emotions longer than they are alive in her. There is a gentle cycle of letting go and letting come, which is terrific to witness. Acknowledging and accepting our emotions without guilt or shame is necessary to be happy.

Trust and lean on others.

Never have I found D to feel afraid to reach out for help. She demands the assistance she needs from her ecosystem of support. She reminds me we were always meant to live inter-dependently in communities of belonging and support. It is the only way we thrive and flourish. Self-reliance or personal independence is a modern myth feeding isolation and separation.

Listen to your body and rest when you need it.

D takes her naps whenever she needs them, wherever she is. She unabashedly creates space for them. She reminds me that we were not meant to be productive, 24x7, 12 months a year. It is not only okay but necessary to create space for rest and recovery.

Seeing her, I have realised how much our conditioning and contexts distort our ways of seeing ourselves, others and our world. Instead of making youth and children like us through our education and work institutions, we must find ways of becoming children again, at least in our minds and hearts. That might lead us back to the sense of well-being we are born with!

As a parent, this realisation has liberated me in many ways. She embodies the secrets of a good life even though she doesn’t cognitively know them yet. My role requires me to nurture what is innate to her by offering a safe and supportive environment.

What have you learned from a child? Do share in the comments section below (scroll right down).

This article was originally published on Kapil's Medium Blog.

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1 Comment

Sep 02, 2022

Dear Kapil, So well articulated. We really do need to learn from our children and not mould them in our image. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your musings.

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