Lessons from infants: 'Taking it all in'

Have you ever watched a baby look around the room, or jump their attention from one adult to another?Have you ever noticed how little infants, as they become more aware of their surroundings, take delight in staring at things around the room? Their eyes scan the room and 'take everything in'. If you observe these little ones, you will notice how interested they are in their surroundings. 

When was the last time you stopped to notice what is around you? We often say 'stop to smell the flowers' or 'take in the sunshine'. But do you actually DO this? 

Young children are learning about their environments; our eyes take in our surroundings and transmit these messages to the brain, where visual processing occurs. Without getting too complicated, it is quite a complex and interconnected process! The miracle of vision is truly a blessing we all have.

Stop for a moment and take a look around you. What's there? Is your room organized? What colour are the walls? How is the lighting? Are their windows? What about when you are outside - do you notice the way the wind blows the trees back and forth? The way the clouds fill the skies? 

When you are with your family members or friends and playing a game, do you notice the way their faces light up with smiles? Or the gentleness in your neighbour's eyes? Do you 'take in' the pleasures of being around people you love?

Our physical environments have huge impacts on our mood. In fact, there is strong evidence to show that the rooms you live in, including where you work, have an impact on your mood and productivity. As an example, we know that physical space - including colour, lighting, spacing of offices, etc - has an impact on employee productivity (see this article as an example). This article also briefly explores different ways of our rooms and living spaces impact our mood and sleep cycles.

While some aspects of our environments might not be under our control (ex. you might not be able to change the wall colour of your work office), some things might be. Can you add plants to lighten the space? Can you take stretch breaks and walk towards a window at work? What about at home? You don't need to go through radical home renovations to change the physical environment to help your health. It might be as simple as decluttering and keeping the home organized - evidence strongly supports that an organized space helps our mood, productivity, and well-being in several ways.

Let's make mindful attempts to be conscious of the environments we live, work, and play in. Let us learn from infants and babies and 'take it all in' - both to improve our spaces when possible, and to enjoy and appreciate the small joys in life: the reflection of the sun in rivers, the strength of the bricks our homes possess, the white walls that house us when we sleep, the love that penetrates through facial expressions of loved ones, etc. 

Take some time to 'take it all in' - notice, observe, and appreciate your surroundings.

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