Natural Exuberance

We’re all born with natural exuberance.  We are also wired for rage and fear, but we come into this world with an open spirit—ready to learn, grow and experience life.  Then we are socialized, shaped, reinforced and made to be logical and rational as the demands of parents, teachers and society tamp down our natural enthusiasms and joie de vivre.  While this is part of living in a collective culture, it seems to have generally killed our buzz and dampened our spirits, often draining the color out of life spirits.

To some extent, the secret agenda, or at least potential, of adulthood is to reclaim our natural exuberance.  There is a subtle difference between a child-like way of being (i.e. a midlife crisis of regression, sports cars and furtive sex) and child-mind (i.e. a playful and lighthearted opening of body, mind and spirit). 

Given that as grown-ups we have a general lack of role models to emulate; we have relatively few icons who seem both mature, good parents and also truly happy.  Barack and Michelle are just about ideal, but he’s perhaps a little on the busy side to serve as the truly ideal father that we would really want if we were kids again.

On the other hand, we have ample role models for natural exuberance:  children.  The younger they are, the more naturally exuberant they remain.  Whether training to be a therapist, an actor or a happy person, kids are terrific teachers of authenticity and presence to the moment—particularly pre-verbal children.

Thus pay attention to the kids, your own, or those who cross your path today—they are all worth meditating on.  Try to soften your gaze and see to their sacred spirit.  Try to imagine being them, seeing you with their eyes, smelling lavender honey with their nose, hearing music and wind with their ears, tasting fruit with their mouths and tongues, touching rain with their fingers. 

Whatever your métier, from painting to venture capital, if you can maintain your sense of maturity and discipline and at the same time bring forth child-mind you unlock all sorts of good things from flashes of insight to presence to the moment.  Beyond being good for your worldly endeavors, exuberant child-mind will help you attune with your own child, facilitating their growth and confidence because you are able to slow down and sincerely enjoy them.

Whether you’re raising an orchid child or a rough and tumble dandelion, all kids grow better under the radiance of being seen, engaged and appreciated for just being who they are, as they are.  This comes right back to the appreciator as instant happiness, lasting for as long as you can sustain your exuberant soft presence to whatever just is.  Sometimes we do a little too much teaching, guiding and shaping when, paradoxically, doing less might end up doing more for our kids.

So, let’s dedicate today to reclaiming our natural exuberance, both because it’s fun and also because it serves all our collective children.

Namaste, Bruce

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2 Responses to “Natural Exuberance”

  1. Kristen Says:

    My reading of this post comes directly on the heels of Husband observing Tiny Baby and noting: “He has a limitless amount of good will.” I appreciate your reminder to try to keep things that way for him and to nurture that child-mind and child-spirit in my own life.

  2. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Perhaps more difficult to remember when dealing with the teenage years, often dependent upon the day (or even the hour), when observing or interacting with a teen. But a wonderful reminder, nonetheless, as a parent is occasionally privy to those moments of exuberance that peek through even at adolescence.

    The trick would be to encourage them in some way to remain bountiful – and at this stage, one can only hope enough foundation has been laid that it will be so. Whether we as parents are there to see it or not. We often get the worst behaviors, perhaps because those expressions of confusion or anger need to go somewhere – and so they are left with the one who will love them no matter what. The safe place.

    How to retain natural exuberance when you are the nest, and the threads deposited are thorny and bitter?

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