Do you still have a sense of wonder? Can you get excited by simple, ordinary things around you? If yours has faded I hope I can refresh your excitement and help you redevelop wonderment.
It came built in
When we were small, most of us had this wonderment. Everything was new and fresh and exciting. An ice cream cone, a kitten, a flower, a ball, a bicycle – they all captivated us. We could go out and play all day with a cardboard box.
But then somewhere along the line, we “grew up”. It is what we were supposed to do. At least, that’s what they said. We became too “mature” for that child-like wonder. Cynicism replaced wonder. Boredom chokes out the joy we had.
Are our lives better off based on cynicism? Perhaps we should try to recapture some of what we had. I believe we can relearn some of this joy and wonder if we work at it.
Change the context
Most of us lead pretty routine, repeatable lives. Making a change to the routine can wake up new ways to see things. Go out for walk. Get up earlier. Sleep in later. Instead of going to one of your normal restaurants fix a picnic and go to a park. Stop and look at a sunset. Really look.
See a road you haven’t been down? Take it. See what’s there. It will probably only take a few minutes, but you expand your viewpoint and feed your curiosity. It’s worth it to me. Even is it is ugly and awful and seems to be a waste, I believe you are better off for breaking the routine and trying it.
Feed your curiosity
Are you still curious? I ask seriously. Many people don’t seem to be curious about the world around them. I think that is part of the cynicism that shuts down the desire to know more. For some it is enough to try to decide what’s for dinner and which TV show to watch.
If you are reading this blog I hope that is not you. I hope you burn with curiosity about a variety of subjects. Let that drive you to do something. Look it up. Build something. Try something new. Read a biography of someone you admire.
Let me give a small example that is completely off topic from art, but relevant to the idea of curiosity. My city is installing fiber to the house broadband throughout the town. So for months there has been strange equipment around putting the conduits underground. I was curious about how that worked so I looked up some articles on horizontal boring. It is pretty fascinating. It is a much better way of installing pipes in areas where there is already a lot of utilities in the way. Now when I see this equipment I have a better idea of how it works and I feel better for taking the time to satisfy my curiosity.
I believe curiosity goes hand in hand with our sense of wonder. They each support the other. As you let your curiosity grow and feel its way in different directions your wonder will grow at what you are discovering. And your wonder encourages you to be more curious.
Slowing down can be hard for us. The world pushes us forward at breakneck speed. Faster, be more productive, multi-task, don’t slack off.
But slowing down sometimes (and unplugging from media and social networks) can be very good for us. When we take it slow for a change we see new things. We see things in new ways. Let your mind rest and catch up. Give it some time to relax and think.
And like changing the context, slowing down allows us to see things different. Instead of flashing by with little thought we can take a new look at things around us. Start to really see. Seeing leads to wonder.
One of the things I love to do is show someone a picture and have them say “that’s pretty neat, I’ve never seen that before.” And I point out to them that it is a block from where they are and they’ve passed it 100 times without seeing it. Some people are insulted. But some learn from that that there are interesting things to see all around ir you are receptive.
This is an easy one. Travel takes us to new locations, out of the norm, maybe out of our comfort zone. This is good. Things seem new and different, and for a while we tend to look around more.
It has always been said that travel is broadening. I agree. The change in perspective and environment and getting out of the usual can be very good for us. One of the hard things is to bring this awakened viewpoint back home. We so quickly fall back into our ruts.
You have control of your attitude. Come back from the trip with a commitment to see your local area as if it was an exotic destination. Sounds silly, but try it.
it’s an attitude
You control your ability to find wonder around you. It is an attitude and something you can practice to improve. Like learning any new habit, it takes time and hard work.
First, you have to decide that a new sense of wonder is worth it. It might take a while to rediscover that spark and recognize it. Then you have to practice finding it. Then you have to keep on pushing yourself to keep looking with fresh eyes, even when everything seem so boring.
Be open to it
Wonderment is really something we find within ourselves. We have to look inside and discover that we are curious and new things we see and find can be exciting and worthwhile.
Climb out of your rut. Take a fresh look around. See with new eyes and a new attitude. Practice, practice, practice.
Somewhere inside is still some of that child-like wonder we used to have. When we bring it out again we have a fresh and exciting life. Be amazed.
Note on the photo: This is a perfectly common and ordinary scene where I live. You would probably walk by it with barely a glance. I have changed it in ways that makes it abstract and difficult to recognize, and to me, it exudes wonder.