I often even hear him giggling in his sleep! I love to know he’s such a happy spirit, he’s intent on laughing even in his dreams!
We adults, in contrast, laugh less than 20 times a day. (And I’m guessing even less so on Mondays!)
I’m curious if these numbers are exactly correct – and if so – I’m curious how much the researchers laughed collecting these numbers from toddlers and adults! (Nice work, eh? Being a “laugh collector”!)
But even if the numbers aren’t 100% verified, there’s verifiable proof in every playground that babies and toddlers are whooping it up far more frequently than the parents and sitters attending them.
As a Glad Scientist, I became curious about this – and discovered there are scientific reasons behind why babies and toddler’s brains are set up to find the world so amusing.
Here’s the neuroscientific scoop explained super quickly:
Babies start off as super-conscious beings — little Zen Masters — because they use their brains differently from us grown-ups.
Babies choose to lacksadaisically notice the quirkiest of details – unlike us grown ups, who choose instead to focus on what we believe is most essential to us.
As a result, babies have a greater expanded consciousness.
Okay, now here’s the neuroscientific scoop explained more slowly:According to Alison Gopnik, a Berkeley psychologist, we adults use a pruning process of sorts to look at the world with our adult brains.
Basically, our adult brains are set to focus only on what we have learned over time to be most important to us.
This pruning process eventually allows for only a limited view of life.
As a result, we adults might find ourselves instinctively choosing to focus strongly on the wrong bits of information.
Or we might find ourselves neglecting important possibilities and helpful perceptions – that could empower us to live more lovingly, successfully and happily.
A baby’s brain has many advantages compared with an adult’s brain. The “narrow consciousness” of our adult brains makes us a bit lacking when it comes to creativity and problem solving – as well as finding intrigue and amusement in life.
Plus, our limited consciousness makes us less open to adjusting to the new and less able to be in the now.
In contrast, a baby’s brain is like a lantern, spreading a light of awareness which can sort through lots of seemingly irrelevant information – hereby being more receptive to discovering highly rewarding solutions and innovative concepts.
A baby’s brain is also better able to notice beauty and experience delight, being fully appreciative of the new – and more present in the now.
Guess what? This is the same description of the prefrontal cortex area found in a baby. And these researchers found that the more these jazz musicians were able to deactivate this prefrontal cortex — and think like a baby — the more they were able to spontaneously invent new, exciting melodies!
The answer: Start meditating! Both Gopnik and those Johns Hopkins University researchers compared the unwound state of mind found in babies and jazz musicians to the same open mindset found in those who meditate. Indeed, Gopnik very much believes a baby’s consciousness is similar to the consciousness in a meditational state – a state where we “dissolve attentional focus and become aware of everything at once.”
For many reasons, I found comparing a baby’s consciousness to the consciousness reached in meditation particularly fascinating. I’m a huge fan of meditation. I know lots of people assume meditation to be some Buddhist mumbo-jumbo, but it’s been scientifically documented to create therapeutic changes in the brain.
In particular, Dr. Brick Johnstone (professorand chair of the Department of Health Psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Health Professions) has performed many studies on how meditation affects the brain.
He’s even pinpointed a specific change in the right parietal lobe, the brain region Johnstone describes as a human’s “self-awareness spot.”
Johnstone has also noticed a quieting of this self-awareness spot during appreciation of art, nature and music, which may explain why people often say they lose themselves in a beautiful painting or scenery. He also noticed that a similar effect occurs during our experiences of romance and charity – the reason we feel selflessness when we’re sharing the loving.
With all this in mind, it makes sense that a baby’s expanded consciousness is similar to a meditating adult’s expanded consciousness. After all, a baby is a being who is highly open and in the now, fully receptive to seeing the beauty everywhere! Just like someone who meditates.So if you want to be happier, start a regular meditation practice today, and start thinking like a baby.
What’s something which comes to your mind and heart when you read this story? Share your personal story or a personal happiness tool! I LOVE it when you share – because I love to find out about my community!
Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.