When I was babysitting my grandson the other day, I noticed something. Babies’ emotions can change on a dime. At one moment Crosby would whine, almost to the point of crying. But all I had to do was read him a book, play with blocks, or distract him in some other way and he smiled or laughed. When he started to get just a little fussy, I changed his environment and took him outside. Crosby loves to be outside. When he’s out there he’s often as still, as quiet, and observant as a baby can be.
Emotions are a funny thing (get it?). Today I experienced a wide variety of emotions in the adults with whom I interacted. I laughed heartily with a group of people as we shared common experiences. A man called me on the telephone to tell me he got the job he hoped for. He was so full of joy and thankfulness that it brought him to tears. I heard the fear in the voice of a woman who has family members facing medical issues.
Emotions are a blessing from God. They make life interesting. Emotions give us a truly human outlet for the variety that life delivers. We express them already as babies. They help others know how to respond and react to us.
Unfortunately, as adults we tend to muffle them, cover them up, or mask them. We learn to “control” our emotions rather than give ourselves the permission to set them free. When I watch Crosby I realize that since he cannot yet talk he uses his emotion to communicate his needs and desires. And maybe that’s why they change so quickly. When a need is met his emotion changes. But he most certainly isn’t afraid to freely express his emotions.
Sometimes I wish I were more like Crosby. I know it’s not socially acceptable to openly and freely express my emotions. But I wonder how much better I would feel — and how much better people would be able to help one another — if we adults would be more open with our feelings. Even if that means our feelings change on a dime, as they sometimes do.
So I give you permission today to do an experiment. Express your emotions a bit more freely. Be sensitive to the feelings of others. Then react and respond in kind. And I really mean: in kind.
What would our world be like if this would happen more frequently?