In Buddhist practice we try to avoid labeling, judging, and attaching to the things we might desire which could cause us craving or suffering. Through mindfulness based practices we are able to see things as passing experiences and simply notice what arises within us in response. There are easy things in life to manage this way and then there are cute baby animals.
Applying mindfulness to social media is a practical tool for not getting “lost in the scroll” or using social media for avoidance purposes. There is little denial that coming across pictures of kittens, puppies, or other baby animals makes us feel good and can change any sour mood to a sweet one. While this may disagree with the ongoing practice of staying non-attached, it completely agrees with the ability to let our hearts be open to embracing all joys. Mindfully enjoying cute baby animals or just fully indulging in attachment to how stinking cute they are- consuming such media actually entails positive benefits.
According to Inverse.com, looking at pictures of cute baby animals can increase our feelings of wellbeing, our positivity, and help us focus. One study referenced by the article performed a dexterity test on human subjects before and after viewing pictures of cute baby animals. “The subjects were more successful performing the task after viewing the baby animal pictures- their attention actually became more focused after viewing the cuter pictures.”
Finding baby animals cute and responding positively to them is the result of schema. A psychology term, schema essentially means a representation. PsychologicalScience.Org reports that “people are predisposed to respond to ‘cute’ baby-like features…known as the ‘baby schema’.” Baby animals have this baby schema, which consists of key physical features like a big head with large eyes. Kittens and puppies are found to be cuter than cats and dogs for this reason. Seeing the “baby schema” causes people to smile, feel more positive, and feel aroused to demonstrate nurturing behaviors.
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