When was the last time the shape of the clouds fascinated us more than what’s on our phones? Or we sat engrossed in the sunset without a single interruption?
Chances are, for most of us it’s been a while. As much as we might appreciate these things, the never-ending to-do lists and distractions of our lives tend to desensitize us to the little miracles around us – to the point where we might stop noticing them altogether.
As we get older, it’s natural to grow accustomed to the things that once enchanted us as kids because we’re no longer seeing them for the first time. Before I moved to Los Angeles, for example, I remember how incredible I thought it was that there were palm trees lining the streets here (I’m from Minnesota, after all).
But since living here, that initial fondness and excited wonder has long subsided.
On the one hand, it’s wonderful to be able to adapt to our surroundings and grow comfortable in our environments, but isn’t it tragic when we become dulled to their unique magic in the process? Whether it’s the newness of a palm tree or perhaps the glisten of bubbles in a warm bath, the scent of wild gardenias on a hot summer evening or the warmth of a hug from Mom… there are countless experiences in our lives that merit our awe and appreciation.
The world is full of beautiful, awe-inspiring life and cultivating a sense of wonder toward it is not just some feel-good exercise, but an attitude with profound benefits; it’s what inspires our imaginations and allows us to immerse ourselves in the present moment. Who wouldn’t want to experience the humbling and surprising admiration that true wonder brings?
… it’s wonderful to be able to adapt to our surroundings and grow comfortable in our environments, but isn’t it tragic when we become dulled to their unique magic in the process?
According to Albert Einstein, “He … who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead – his eyes are closed.”
Though our innate sense of wonder might have diminished since childhood, it is not difficult to restore. All we must do is seek to see the world through a fresh lens, as if for the first time. Each moment is unique and fleeting, never again to be created, so each time we look at something actually is the first (and last) time we will see it just as it is in that moment. That’s kind of amazing to think about, isn’t it?
Once we internalize that, we’ll become more curious about the things we too often take for granted and start to see the miraculous even in the common. A glass of water is no longer just a glass of water; it’s part of a resource that is constant and could have passed through dinosaurs before us. The weather is not just “good” or “bad,” but a remarkable formation never again to be reproduced. The faces of our friends reflect not just their own stories but the stories of all their ancestors.
When we are open to it, each person and place we encounter contains their own unique charm. So the next time we feel bored and are tempted to open Instagram or Snapchat to kill time, let’s remember that the real captivating, miraculous stuff is already right here in front of us.
What was the last thing that filled you with a sense of wonder?
Images via Tanja Heffner