…And what to my wondering eyes should appear?
When we picture being filled with awe and wonder, we often pull up the image of a child in our minds. What if we made it an active pursuit throughout life?
Think of how a moment or sight can take your breath away, even for an instant. Your mind may be set in motion assimilating how such a thing came to be. A snowflake, a child at play, the night sky, an amazing new technology, or the glint in the eye of a loved one all have the ability to fill us with surprise and marvel. We can have moments like that daily. It's there for the taking, if we intentionally choose it.
Being captivated may point us in a new direction toward an interest, person, insight, or lifestyle and change up our life going forward. How often do you take the time and let yourself go there? It turns out that simply just letting ourselves be in that space of wonder for its own sake has health benefits, too!
A feeling of surprised or puzzled interest, sometimes tinged with admiration;
or even a miraculous deed or event; to marvel.
An overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc.
produced by that which is grand, sublime, or extremely powerful.
Awe and wonder can be shared emotions that promote community or connection, either with other people or with nature. Research shows it helps us let go of our individual focus and situation and see we are part of something bigger. Spending time in awe and wonder helps us express feelings of oneness with others and makes us more generous with one another according to Van Cappelin and Saroglou.
We've known for a number of years about the effect of positive emotion on our physical health. Among the positive emotions, awe and wonder was the strongest predictor of lower levels of cytokines, which are markers of inflammation according to research. Inflammation is the common denominator in heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, as well as a host of other chronic conditions. Imagine how much fun and lightness you could have while taking steps to prevent these chronic conditions! I'm all for developing a device for our wrists to measure how much awe and wonder we are letting ourselves experience each day!
Dr. Deanna Minich offers some simple ways to experience more awe and wonder. Here are several:
It is not only what you do in your days, it is the approach you use--what I refer to as passionate curiosity, mentioned in another writing. What do you want to enjoy today? Can you be content just letting yourself take it in and marveling at it?
What might awe and wonder illuminate in your retirement? How does that practice offer more lightness to your days? How does it wake you to new things? What if it were your goal each day or each week to experience awe and wonder at least once? Intentionally seeking that out can't help but also cultivate gratitude, which I will dive into in the future.
As you mark these days ahead, whether with holiday celebrations or quiet on these shortest days of the year, take time to ponder. Reflect back on this year. What has happened of note in your year? How has it been different than all the others? Spend a little time in awe of the details of your life, no matter whether it has seemed mundane and routine or overwhelmed by major happenings. What a great year-end act of self-care and happiness building!
There's More to Life.
I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment below. Part of my vision is to help create community around living a great retirement. In what ways would connecting with other people approaching or living retirement be helpful for you?
Ruth Tongen helps you take stock, plan and live retirement in a bigger, happier, healthier way. She can help you find an 'aha' and move that to an aspiration and then on to an action. Move past sticking points and begin living on purpose.
E-mail her: firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to explore how she can help you live a great next chapter.
Ruth Tongen helps people plan and live meaningful, fun and healthier retirements.