Are your days full of never-ending tasks and demands? Do they seem like a blur at times? If you ever find that life and work feel like a grind and there’s not a lot to be happy about, there is one thing you can do that will instantly shift your perspective.
The secret? Rediscover your sense of wonder.
When we were children, the world around us was an endless playground of fascinations and delights. Everything was new and fresh; we were constantly amazed by what we could see, hear, taste, touch, and smell . Remember being amazed at sunsets, animals and the cold spray of water? Children naturally have a sense of wonder about the world around them. As we grow into adulthood, that sense of wonder somehow gets lost and buried under responsibilities. Rediscovering your sense of wonder and awe will help you find your sense of gratitude for the amazing gifts your life has to offer.
Definitions of Wonder
Wonder (or awe) is one of those terms that we instantly know when we experience it, but it is often hard to describe because it impacts us on such a profound level. The Miriam Webster Dictionary defines wonder as:
- the quality of exciting amazed admiration
- rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience
An article by Psychology Today describes the way researchers define it as “that sense of wonder we feel in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world.”
Those definitions come close; however, it’s the felt sense, the actual sensations that flow through our entire bodies when we experience something amazing, that defines wonder.
Research and Benefits
Many research studies have shown the benefits of experiencing a sense of wonder. Here are some findings regarding ways a sense of wonder (awe) can increase our wellbeing:
- leads to greater humility, curiosity, innovation, happiness, and a desire to contribute to the world
- promotes altruism, loving-kindness, and magnanimous behavior
- increases satisfaction with life
- may promote good health
Think about a time when you have experienced something profound, something indescribably beautiful, something that goes beyond your ability to comprehend or explain it. That felt sense of “wow” brought forth something inside you that was a mix of amazement, gratitude, and a sense that you are a part of something incredible in this life.
When you experience something that brings a sense of wonder, your perspective shifts from the “smallness” of yourself and your current experience to something larger, mysterious, and infinitely amazing. This shift in perspective helps bring you “out of your head” and those things you are grappling with, and into the larger stream of life. It opens up space inside you somehow and gives you a sense that there are untapped possibilities in your life.
Experiencing a moment with a sense of wonder can also bring you instantly to the present moment. It will bring a heightened awareness of what is happening “right now,” often with an accompanying sense of gratitude.
Ways to Cultivate your Sense of Wonder
- One of the easiest and most effective ways to have a wonder-filled experience is in nature. This can run the gamut from viewing one of the 7 Wonders of the World (such as the Grand Canyon) to taking a walk in your neighborhood. Give it a try! Go for a neighborhood walk and pay special attention to the trees, flowers, and plants you see. Touch them and smell their scent. Marvel at their form, their color, and their amazing complexity. Look up at the vastness of the sky, marveling at its color and the ever-changing beauty of the clouds or stars. Notice tiny things and immense things. The more you cultivate a sense of awe in nature, the more you will notice to be amazed about. When you do this, notice what happens inside you and what is now possible that felt closed to you before your walk.
- Reflect on the miracle of your own body. Our bodies are an incredible system of cells, muscles, organs, and pathways that connect and make everything magically work to allow you to breathe and think and move. It is mind-boggling to even contemplate the interconnected, innumerable parts of our bodies — and the mysterious, inexplicable “soul” within us. Try it! Choose a part of your body for your focus. Notice it…the shape, fluidity, strength, and inner parts that make up this one small piece of your body. Think about and notice how it works for you.
- Notice the incredible ingenuity of mankind. Awe-inspiring objects are not only from nature, they are human-built as well. Have you ever looked closely at a skyscraper, a bridge, or a piece of complex technology? How is it that humans have the capacity to bring these incredible things from imagination to reality — and make them work? Try it! Choose something to examine that was build by humans. It can be tiny or huge. Notice its form, how it’s constructed, and think about the math and science and ingenuity that went into its creation.
- Notice something that impacts another of your senses. This could be a beautiful piece of music, the scent of baking bread, the taste of chocolate, the texture of your pet’s fur, or anything that you can experience through your senses. Notice what arises inside you as you experience this, and think about the miracle of how you can experience life in this way. Also notice what arises within you as you experience it. What comes forth in a new way?
A sense of wonder is one of our greatest gifts in life. It’s like an impromptu gift given to you, to unwrap and savor. It’s the chance to say “Wow!” and experience the present moment in a brand new way. Look around you with new eyes and find things that bring forth a sense of wonder to bring you an instant lift. You’ll be glad you did.