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The Blog

Lessons from Infancy: Determination

Emily Porta

I am starting a new weekly blog series where we will explore what infants teach us about living as adults. We were all babies at one point and we all had these quality within in us. But with stress, trauma, loss, poor relationships and more we lost sight of some of the inner wisdom that we have had all along. So today's blog is about DETERMINATION.

A baby rolls over onto his tummy. "hmmmm, ok, this is working for me." His butt is promptly propped up in the air as he tries to rock back and forth onto his knees. Up on his knees he keeps putting forth effort to moving forward. And then, all of us suddenly..."plop" He rolls over to his side and ends up on his back again. He whimpers, grimaces and rolls back onto his tummy again. Over and over and over this gets played out. Each time getting a little further than before until all of a sudden, he is crawling.

There is something to be said for not giving up. Babies express their frustration sometimes when their efforts don't reap a certain reward, but they keep going back to the task at hand. Do you have something you are trying to do and with each time, end up flat on your back? So that brings to mind, why do infants keep going?There is within them an inner knowledge of drive to do things. We all have them, that is why we look at milestones of development. Each of us has an inner drive as adults. The issue is whether we honor it or ignore it. 

As adults we talk about having the determination but we lose motivation when we no longer listen to our wisdom - the little voice in side that says, "never give up, keep going." Babies don't try to learn to walk because they imagine the great things ahead - anticipating the new view from the sofa or climbing up the slide. No, they learn to walk because the enjoy it. The simple act of walking is exciting, and invigorating. They don't put expectations on the end result...nor is there really an end. It isn't like once you learn to walk you stop walking. 

One of my favorite mindfulness exercises is the walking meditation. It brings us back into our bodies, just like a baby, fascinated at what it takes to ambulate. Slow your steps and notice the physical sensation of walking. It is amazing what all comes together to make this daily activity happen. 

Babies are proud of themselves and take delight in the process of learning something new. Their determination is inspiring and reminds us that trying new things, even if we fall can be fun, exciting and all together essential to our livelihood.