The Secret to Maximizing Joy: An Exclusive Interview With My One Year Old

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My daughter, aka "Mighty Mouse", just turned one last week. Even though she does do some arguably dumb things like crap in her pants and stick her fingers in electrical sockets (calm down, they're all low voltage), I've learned a lot from her in this past year. I may even go so far as to say it's questionable who has learned more from who.  

You see, people don't start off dumb, grumpy, jaded. You don't see 2 year olds practicing to be obnoxious TSA agents or hear an infant telling another infant that their boss is getting on their nerves. These kinds of traits take years of practice. So seeing how Mighty Mouse is still pretty likeable, I figured I better hurry up and take down some notes before things head south. I think I even saw her reading a TSA employment pamphlet the other day, so it may almost be too late.

Now, It wasn't easy to find time to schedule an interview with Mighty Mouse. Her days are pretty busy with chewing on the TV remote (tastes like chicken!) and trying to stand on two feet. But I did manage to book some time on her calendar in between napping and eating to sit down for an exclusive one-on-one interview. Some of the below had to be translated from babble to English, but I think I got the gist of it. 

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The first question regarded her  list of grievances in life this far. 

Thanks for sitting down with me today, Mighty Mouse. I know finding time to sit down with someone, and in fact even being able to sit up at all is quite a challenge for you.  For my first question, I'd like to talk about problems and problem-solving. What are the problems you face in your life on a day-to-day basis?
Great question, Kimbro. It's actually a pretty easy one to answer. My problems on a day-to-day basis are one of the following - I'm either hungry, tired, or have gone to the bathroom in my pants.

Really? I mean, you've got to have more problems than that.
Nope, that's about it. Sometimes I hit my head on the coffee table or the carpet, but otherwise that sums it up.

Wow. So you're never just having an off-day and you don't know why or just feeling blue for some reason? What if the weather is ugly outside?
Why would the weather affect my mood? No, as long as I have my family, friends and am well rested, well fed, and not sitting in a pile of pee, I'm pretty good.

I see. So say you have one of the problems above, like you get REALLY hungry. Maybe your parents took you on an airplane and forgot to pack food, I mean just a hypothetical, who would do that. But say you get really hungry. Once you get fed, you're probably traumatized right? I bet you're talking about that experience for weeks!
No actually, Kimbro, once you fix my problem, I'm totally over it. Like I might get ready really hungry and be like:

Feed me, Assholes!
— Mighty Mouse

But once I'm fed, I'm  back on track. I remember this one time my parents took me out to a party and kept me up way past my bedtime. I was so pissed off I screamed at the top of my head. I've never been so tired in my entire year of existence! But once I fell asleep, man that was the best sleep I ever had. I woke up happier than ever! The whole thing is a distant memory. Completely put behind me. I bet if you asked me in a year, I wouldn't even remember.

Cross Country Flying FIrst Class Seat on Mommy's Lap

Cross Country Flying FIrst Class Seat on Mommy's Lap

That's very inspirational. Simplify your problems. I get it. That makes a lot of sense. Now you mentioned that you sometimes fall over and hit your head on things like the coffee table. That's got to hurt. When you face a setback like that, I imagine you get lots of sympathy from your friends?
You know, everyone likes sympathy Kimbro, but honestly sometimes too much sympathy can just make you feel worse. If I fall and hit my head on the coffee table and someone gives me lots of sympathy or says, "You poor baby, are you okay?", it might actually make me cry more! But usually people just clap their hands together, put goofy smiles on their faces, and shout, "You're okay! Yippee!". And you know what, that usually works! I usually do feel okay after that.

I'm starting to see what you're saying. Problems are usually pretty simple, and once you fix those problems put it behind you. Plus, sometimes less sympathy is actually better then focusing too much on your issues. You're pretty wise for being only 30 inches tall. Ok, enough about problems. Let's talk about happiness. What are your thoughts on being happy?
Actually Kimbro, I think happiness is the wrong word. I think a better word to think about is "joy". We are all so focused on being happy these days, but being happy feels like a concept that only applies to yourself. Focusing on my happiness makes me think of focusing inwards. When I think of joy, I think of sharing something with other people. 

I think happiness is the wrong word. I think a better word to think about is “joy”.
— Mighty Mouse

You know, people spend so much time on their iPhones nowadays. Sure iPhones taste delicious and I like picking them up and dropping them on the floor just like the next baby, but when I think "joy", I think about spending quality time with other people. Putting on my favorite country tunes with my family and clapping my hands off the beat. That's joy to me. It's about simply enjoying each other and appreciating being around people who make you smile.

Wow, that's very wise for someone who just tried to put a carrot in their mouth and missed. I'm impressed. I really appreciate what you said about joy, but for me, some days are more joyful than others. Is there something you do to maximize the number of days that are enjoyable?
Why thank you for asking Kimbro. Actually, there is. It doesn't sound sexy, not that I know what sexy is and won't know until I'm at least 25, but the key for me is really about routine. The perfect example is when people go on vacation. They think it's going to be relaxing because they can just let go and go off of their routine. Anything goes. But actually routine is relaxing. A healthy routine really contributes to our overall day-to-day enjoyment. For example, I really enjoy having a structured day. You might think that it would be hard to have a routine being a baby and all but my routine is very regimented and it has been ever since I was born.

Interesting. So what does a typical day look like for you?
Well, on typical day I wake up at about 7 a.m. It's pretty exciting now because I can stand up in my crib. My parents should probably lower it  because I'm about to do a muscle up and jump over that sucker any day now but that's beside the point.

My parents walk in and we do a round of clapping and jumping up and down, excited to start our day. I actually really recommend that for anyone. It's a great start to the morning.

I eat a protein shake of formula for breakfast first thing, and recently I've added a couple soft boiled eggs to my diet. A good breakfast gets me going strong.

From there, I go to work (aka daycare) around 8:30 a.m and usually the first thing I do when I get there is take a nap. When I wake up, I get to work. I do really enjoy my job. Right now I'm working on stacking cups. It does have its ups and downs, like any job. Sometimes co-workers come over and grab one of my cups or throw banana chunks at me, but it keeps it exciting. While I'm at work I eat three small meals and two more protein shakes, one for lunch and one for a 5 p.m. snack.

I get home around 6 and me and the fam head out for a happy hour on the porch. We talk about our day, I might even give them a few pointers on cup stacking, then we head inside for a healthy home cooked meal. Usually I'm pretty tired after that and head to bed around 7:30 or 8. 

Got it. So it sounds like structure in your day actually makes you relax and enjoy it more, not less. That makes sense. Well, I think that about wraps it up for me. Any final piece of advice you'd like to share? 
Yeah, I would. My last piece of advice is to smile. At the end of the day, everyone wants to be around someone who smiles. It makes you happy and everyone around you happy. Just smile. Take it from someone who only has two teeth. 

Sum it Up

Wow, I don't know about you but that was pretty insightful. Let's sum up what we learned: 

  1. Our problems may be simpler than we think. A lot of day-to-day stress is caused by diet, lack of sleep, not enough exercise, or occasionally crapping your pants. 
  2. When a problem is solved, move on. Don't dwell on it, be traumatized by it, or create new problems to focus on in its place. 
  3. Sometimes sympathy is counter-productive. Try the coach mentality in its place: "You can do this! You're fine!". 
  4. Happiness is too internal. Focus on joy instead. Have positive experiences with people you care about. 
  5. Routine and structure can be better than freedom and no rules. Regular wake and sleep times, healthy meals especially breakfast, exercise, and a good morning routine are key. 
  6. Smile. It's a choice. Everyone you want to know is doing it. 

When you put it all together, it sounds pretty simple. And it should. Sometimes the best solutions are the most simple ones. The good news is it might be so simple that even an adult can do it. 

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Happy Hour, Indeed.

Happy Hour, Indeed.