I recently accompanied my 7-year-old son to his classmate's Chuck E. Cheese birthday party. For the record, Chuck E. Cheese is not one of my favorite places. All those children running around wiping their noses as they bounce from game to game cheerfully spreading their germs. Not to mention trying to monitor your littlest ones amongst all the chaos to make sure they don't get trampled on. So suffice it to say, I was not enthralled with having to go there. But as a parent, you got to do what you got to do, right? My son is still very much into Chuck E. Cheese and practically dashed through the parking lot in excitement with me trailing closely behind yelling, "watch it!" Once inside, it was the usual routine, my son running off, and me chatting superficially with other parents about the highs and lows of parenting. But surprisingly, when my eye caught the attention of the birthday girl, whom I'd actually never seen before that day, I was strangely inspired. Abigail was just a typical little girl having a typical Chuck E. Cheese birthday party. But it was her attitude that captured my attention. To say she was happy is an understatement. This little girl was completely ecstatic about her birthday. She basked in the sea of attention she was getting from all her friends. And even demanded it, screaming at the top of her lungs "You have to listen to me 'cause it's my birthday!!!!" Okay, so maybe she was a little bossy. But the point is, she didn't care how she was being perceived. She was happy and excited, and determined to show it no matter what.
I think we as adults can learn a lesson from Abigail. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the day-to-day struggles of life that we forget how to be happy. And when I say happy, I don't mean happy because we bought a new outfit or a high-tech gadget, or because we got our way. I mean REALLY HAPPY-- that God-given happiness that's there at birth when we are so open and excited to experience the world. Watching Abigail brought me back to my childhood days. I remember purely enjoying myself in my element without being concerned about the thoughts of others, without feeling the pressure to meet expectations. I was so inspired by Abigail that I texted my friend. She said I had a contact high, and she was so right. I think we all need a contact high from time-to-time, particularly when we're feeling down or distressed about those things we feel are just not going so right. During those times, it may help to try to evoke moments of childhood happiness. The times we were able to find enjoyment in even the most mundane of activities. This can help to place our problems in perspective, allowing more time to bask in our own sea of enjoyment just like Abigail.