An elderly couple was walking down the hallway in a medical complex while my family was walking up the hallway in the other direction.
“Wait, look…” the woman said to the man.
They stopped in their tracks to watch my 3-year-old son, Owen, as he headed to the elevator with a lollipop. Owen loves lollipops.
When he’s carrying one he smiles very widely.
He’s not allowed to walk with a lollipop in his mouth, so his anticipation was visibly growing, waiting for the moment he could sit and open it.
It’s worth noting here – as my wife did on the way to the car – how happy young children get over something like a lollipop.
“It’s because they are so in the moment,” she said.
I considered this and figured being in the moment meant not being distracted by stress, not multitasking and not planning what they’ll be doing later.
I said I thought that kids enjoy simple pleasures more because they aren’t jaded yet.
The more you hang around, the more it takes to impress you.
Things that make me happy: reading poetry, going to concerts, interviewing musicians. The first record I bought as a kid was “Voices” by Daryl Hall and John Oates. Hall and Oates were also my first concert.
Through my job, I interviewed their lead guitar player and then became friends with their bass player and musical director, Tom “T-Bone” Wolk. He gave me backstage passes when they came around and eventually, I got to interview John Oates.
Did interviewing my childhood hero stack up to the joy that Owen gets from a lollipop? I am not sure it did. Psychotherapist Wayne Allen said that people stop experiencing life spontaneously as they gain a sense of past and future.
Judgment and expectations temper joy. Of course judgment and expectations aren’t bad. We need those skills for living our daily lives.
But when we let this evaluation process take the wind out of our sails and start over-thinking things, we reach a point of diminishing returns.
Turning back the clock on this feedback loop isn’t an option. While we’ve all heard about the importance of being in the moment, it is often easier said than done.
The good news, though, is that elderly couple. Here was a woman guiding a man through the medical complex taking time to stop and find joy in watching my son glowing with his lollipop.