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What My Baby Niece Has Taught Me About Wonder

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Babies and I have never really hit it off.

The chief reason is because I don't really hang around any - my extended family is unusual in that there aren't a lot of babies bobbing around yet and the friends who have given birth are still struggling with the chaos of motherhood for us to have regular play dates.

But while I have never been that person who will coo on cue at the babies of strangers, I have a new-found appreciation of babies via my niece Leela who is just about The Best Thing Ever.

When I visited my sister in the hospital three weeks ago, I burst into tears at the sight of this tiny little person who hadn't even existed a year ago.

I couldn't quite place why, and it took my dad to make the connection when he said rather poetically while peering over her: "She inspires a sense of wonder about everything."

August sees a global initiative among all the HuffPost markets from Canada to France where we champion wonder. So this seemed like perfect timing to connect with what my niece has taught me (without even uttering a word).

1) You are more than just your day job and money worries

One of the more disconcerting aspects to babies is that as you look down at this tiny person, with his or her life stretching in front of them, full of limitless possibilities, it pulls your own life sharply into focus: your regrets, your mistakes.

While you could focus on the negative, I prefer to think about the possibilities. You may think your life is dictated by your mortgage or your work, but I think we forget that we once didn't have any of this and spent our days just seeing the world.

2) Everything has a beginning and an end, so stop worrying so much about the middle

One of the things that bogs down wonder is when you're upset or caught up in the petty details of who said what on Facebook or just general conflict. Taking a step back to look at how fleeting life is, and whether it really is worth spending so much time being angry or anxious, can really put a new perspective on things.

3) Trying not to pre-judge or pre-empt situations and people

Babies have that wide-eyed goggle look because they are literally seeing so many things for the first time. They don't have any sense of judgement and don't really pre-empt the outcome of something.

While anticipating a situation as an adult can be a good thing, it really robs us of our sense of wonder. We think we already know how something will turn out - for better or worse - just because it feels familiar.

And, if we're experiencing something we weren't expecting, it can seem disappointing, meaning we completely close off our minds and refuse to appreciate it because it's not the thing we wanted.

4) They literally act as a digital detox

If you can manage to stay glued to your phone and look after a baby at the same time, then that's impressive.

Babies are constantly changing their facial expressions when they aren't asleep (which you don't want to miss) and when they are asleep, they have an incredibly calming effect while cuddled in your arms. I think I managed to grab my phone once - and only to take Leela's picture - and after that, I didn't care whether I had it or not.

Above all, babies are the best parts of us. They represent hope, a lifetime yet to come, peace, dreams, growth and a reassuring reminder that in the face of terrible things, life still endures.

If that doesn't inspire even a speck of wonder, I don't know what will.