📿 I’m Trying to Get Excited

Lodro Rinzler
6 min readMar 7, 2024


Takeaways from Paul Rudd and a toy giraffe

This piece originally appeared on Lodro’s Substack: The Laundry

There is a wonderful scene in the movie Knocked Up where Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan’s characters are hanging out on a playground watching Rudd’s young daughters play with bubbles.

“I wish I liked anything as much as my kid likes bubbles,” Rudd exclaims.

“That’s sad,” Rogan aptly replies.

12 years after watching that movie, this line has stayed with me and, in fact, has gained further meaning with the birth of our daughter. Ruby is nine months old now and does this thing when she gets excited that, apparently, is quite common for babies: she audibly pants in joy.

And, to be clear, this is not a once a week thing when she sees something extremely exciting. This can be a once a minute thing when we’re playing with her. I will hold one toy up and she will pant and then squeal, excited to be reunited with this toy. Thirty seconds later I will hold up a different toy and this is now the one that is extremely exciting.

One of her favorite games has two parts. The first part is her panting excitedly in anticipation of taking my glasses from my face. She is just old enough to understand that there is something slightly mischievous about this act, stripping her dad of this thing he needs, and she looks delighted doing it while I feign complete lack of eyesight.

The second part, in order to get my glasses back intact, is where I offer her a trade: does she, perhaps, want her stuffed giraffe? Immediately she pants in excitement for that.

To paraphrase Paul Rudd, I wish I got excited about anything as much as my kid gets excited about her stuffed giraffe.

The other morning as we were playing I got to thinking about excitement. What is this emotion exactly? Oxford Dictionary defines it as a “feeling of great enthusiasm and eagerness.” In other words, it’s anticipatory joy. Looking at our daughter it appears to be this union of possibility and happiness: a willingness to believe that what is about to occur could simply be awesome.

For someone who spends a good deal of time attempting to remain present and find contentment in this moment, I find myself envious of my baby’s level of excitement for things that are about to happen. I would like to be as frequently excited as she is.

When my close friend Dave had his first child I asked him about the experience of being a parent and he offered another phrase that stuck with me: “It’s all joy, no fun.” Meaning, of course, that there is incredible joy in spending time with this little one, sharing in their delight in the world and basking in the moments when they are this excited.

At the same time, do I enjoy many nights spent leisurely over drinks catching up with friends? Do I pursue my hobbies, sneaking out to hit golf balls at my leisure? Do I have lovely vacations with my wife filled with dinners where we catch up uninterrupted? No. No, that type of fun is not very common in the last year or so.

The scene from the movie Knocked Up invokes this feeling I think that many adults have: a sense of low-level dread and disdain for the grind of daily life. The older we get the less there may feel like there is to look forward to. We have terms like “Working for the weekend” which implies 5/7 of our week is abysmal and we live for the remaining two days.

So many of us cling tightly to the thing we need to do in any given day that there is little mental space left for wonder or excitement. We wake up with the feeling of, “What do I need to get done today?” I can’t help but feel that this is a shitty way to live.

Long-time readers of The Laundry know that I wake up every morning and engage in a simple gratitude practice. I ask myself, “What am I grateful for today?” and notice what arises. Often the responses that arise within me are simple aspects of my life: a nice home, a lovely companion in the form of my wife, a happy child, our way too many animals and so on.

If gratitude practice is turning our attention to what we can appreciate about this present moment, excitement practice is tuning into the possibilities for what may arise.

Just this week I have started engaging in a new, recurring contemplation: “What am I excited about?”

I used to be excited about the adventures that might occur during those trips with my wife, new memories being made during time spent in bars with friends, or fresh sensory pleasures during a nice meal at a restaurant. At this moment, with the constraints of a new baby, I don’t have access to many of those things though. Instead of saying, “Woe is me, there’s nothing to get excited about” I am investigating what, within our current circumstances, does excite me.

“What am I excited about?”

I have some good news to share with my wife and I’m excited about telling her. The possibility that she too may feel uplifted by it enlivens me.

Our big dog June is back in the habit of “coming to work” with me, meaning that she places her oversized body into a normal sized chair and goes to sleep. I’m excited that she may be making this a new habit.

It’s getting warmer and the prospect of basking in the sun on our deck is very exciting. I am looking forward to the prospect of lazing in the sun with the full family.

As a “good” meditator I’m not attached to any of these prospects. If June goes back to following the baby around the house instead of me, I will be okay. That’s pretty cute too. But the experience of contemplating excitement is uplifting, particularly in these cold winter months.

Excitement looks different than it did pre-baby. It’s simpler, perhaps. Less glamorous. Still, it’s not that there is less to be excited about but more that I have to exert myself to look for it. Believe it or not, I think I am just as excited having this dog back in my office as I remember being for a long leisurely dinner with friends. Am I fooling myself? Is this some new-parent form of Stockholm Syndrome? Maybe! But I am still excited, so I don’t care.

Looking down the barrel of having his own kid, Seth Rogan’s character in that same scene asks Paul Rudd, “Am I going to be okay, man?”

“Oh,” Rudd replies, taken aback by the question, “Is anybody okay? I’m not okay.”

There are moments when I’ve been with the baby for several long hours and her excitement has become less infectious and emails are adding up in my inbox and I have to prep for a class I’m going to teach that evening. In these moments, feeling pressure on all sides — to show up for my daughter, to get work done, to get in the right headspace to teach — I begin to feel…not okay.

Yet this is the very moment when I now ask myself what I am excited about. When I do, I realize that yes, I am okay and life is, frankly, worth looking forward to. There are many things to like about it, just as much as my kid likes her giraffe.

This piece originally appeared on Lodro’s Substack: The Laundry. For more of his recent writing, check out The Laundry today.

Lodro Rinzler is the award-winning author of 7 books including The Buddha Walks into a Bar and Take Back Your Mind: Buddhist Advice for Anxious Times. He has taught meditation for 20 years in the Buddhist tradition, is the co-founder of MNDFL meditation studios and travels frequently for his books, having spoken across the world at conferences, universities, and businesses as diverse as Google, Harvard University and the White House. Named one of 50 Innovators Shaping the Future of Wellness by SONIMA, Rinzler’s work has been featured in The New York Times,The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, FOX, CBS, and NBC. He lives in upstate New York with his wife Adreanna, daughter Ruby, and a menagerie of small animals. lodrorinzler.com



Lodro Rinzler

Lodro Rinzler is author of “The Buddha Walks into a Bar,” “Love Hurts” and a handful of other fun books on meditation | Co-Founder of MNDFL. lodrorinzler.com