We generally turn to travel when we are craving adventure and excitement. I love travel because it exposes me to so many different people and experiences, and there’s thrill in the unknown. On a recent trip to Cologne, Germany, however, I was reminded that there can be thrill in the known, too.
Having disembarked the long flight from Los Angeles, I trudged to baggage claim, eager to get the cumbersome airport phase of travel over with so that the real adventure could begin. While I was waiting for my bag, I observed an adorable little boy with a Spiderman backpack. He couldn’t have been more than four or five years old. When the conveyor belt started to move, he jumped up and down excitedly, and he turned to ask his mother a question. She nodded her head in approval. He sped to one end of the conveyor belt, placed his backpack on it, and then raced to the opposite end of the belt to await its arrival. When it reached him, he snatched it up and did it all over again a few more times, smiling all the while. Once he spotted his family’s luggage, however, the exciting task of retrieving it took precedence over his little game. When dragging a suitcase twice his size off of the belt proved difficult, his older sister rushed to his aid.
Joy and a sense of accomplishment were so palpably emanating from the boy that they became contagious. What I had assumed was going to be an unremarkable experience – the retrieval of my luggage from baggage claim – had transformed before my eyes into an invaluable lesson about finding joy in the mundane. I was amazed that the boy was able to garner so much happiness and pride from an experience that most adults consider to be a necessary annoyance… a transaction to be checked off the list before the real fun can begin.
I asked myself: Can we, as adults, still seek joy in something so simple? Can we look at quotidian events with childlike eyes? As adults, we often forget to stop and enjoy simple things. We forget to create spaces for play. We look instead to complex, flashy, or expensive things to bring us joy.
It sounds cliché to say, “Stop and smell the roses.” But given the state of the world right now, it is more crucial than ever that we do so. The little boy at baggage claim reminded me that we must be open to the possibility of finding joy, adventure, and insight in unexpected spaces. We must challenge ourselves to be present and playful. I was reminded that there is simple joy to be found in so many of life’s activities, even those that our adult brains have stubbornly classified as mundane or annoying.
What if we took just ten minutes a day to focus on something that brings us joy? At the very least, give yourself that gift. Play again. Seek joy in simplicity. Like the little boy chasing his backpack, you can choose to chase happiness in something you already have rather than chasing something you lack. If you make it a daily practice, I can guarantee that your life will take on new meaning.
Previously published on LinkedIn
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