State of Wonder

Wonder, a noun: “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable” – Definition from Oxford Languages.

In anticipation of possibly soon visiting Ann Patchett’s bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee, who is one of my favorite author’s, I pay homage to her excellent book of the same name with the title today.

Wonder.  Actually allowing oneself to live for an extended period of time in a state of wonder.  How would that look?  Child-like I would imagine, and filled with freedom.  Yet I don’t usually allow myself more than a split second to stay in the state of wonder.  Why is that?  As adults, do we lose our childlike sense of wonder completely and then only feel it glimmer by us in fleeting moments?  I would say yes generally that is what it feels like.  But wouldn’t it be great to allow wonder back into adult life and travel to that state more often? 

Being in a state of wonder would help improve overall well-being in many ways.  Feeling a state of wonder more often would counteract the state of disarray that builds up inside from daily distractions like phones, texts, zooms, plans, etc .  This state of wonder is not easy to travel to though.  It can happen spontaneously and when we are least expecting it, but counterintuitively it can happen if we seek it.  This may take practice.  According to Arianna Huffington the only way to experience wonder is to live in the moment.  She explains a three-step process in her book, “Thrive,”:

“1. Focus on the rising and falling of your breath for ten seconds whenever you feel tense, rushed, or distracted. This allows you to become fully present in your life.

2. Pick an image that ignites the joy in you. It can be of your child, a pet, the ocean, a painting you love — something that inspires a sense of wonder. And any time you feel contracted, go to it to help you expand.

3. Forgive yourself for any judgments you are holding against yourself and then forgive your judgments of others. (If Nelson Mandela can do it, you can, too.) Then look at your life and the day ahead with newness and wonder.”

This is the challenge.  Following these three steps can be a challenge.  The given is that there must be a willingness to be vulnerable.  The benefit is a feeling filled with love and God’s grace.  I plan to try to follow these steps and keep myself accountable in my prayer journal.  One of my favorite verses that reminds me of this is from St. Paul:

“Always be joyful.  Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens.  That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I find that advice challenging, but a good reminder to seek the good in whatever happens. Look for joy wherever possible and fill quiet moments with prayer. The state of wonder is a gift from God; something to be grateful for. 

In the end, recognizing the beauty in the moment is something that is needed for well-being.  Practicing the three steps to the state of wonder from Thrive can give you a concrete method for increasing this sense of keen living. Creating a section of prayer journaling dedicated to gratitude for all of the wondrousness in life can put you in the state of wonder more often.  This all can make traveling to the state of wonder a part of everyday life.

© Megan Davia Mikhail

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