Do you long for the good old days of childhood when things seemed much simpler, easier, more joyful and laid back? Maybe it never was that way for you, but it can be "yet to come" by simply reinstating a sense of wonder in your life.
Arianna Huffington advocates wonder as an antidote to daily stress. In 2014, each of us can activate wonder by opening our hearts, laughing lots and being more sensuous.
Wonder was all around us when we were children. The world seemed big, with an awe-inspiring surprise around every corner. Even our favourite nursery rhymes encouraged it. Remember "Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are?"
We haven't been successful at carrying wonder into our adult world because our measuring stick for success revolves around money and power. This requires being all-knowledgeable and in control, which doesn't leave much room for wonder. To wonder requires a sense of mystery, innocence and even ignorance, which most of us avoid.
More than 100 years ago the famous French novelist Marcel Proust said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes." There was no one more full of wonder than Willy Wonka in the Chocolate Factory and he reiterated the same sentiment, "If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it."
Willy Wonka gave us another clue to achieving wonder when he said, "There's no earthly way of knowing which way they are going." If we think we know where we are headed and are too attached to outcomes we spear wonder in the belly. Wonder comes from letting go which initiates your heart, laughter and senses.
Relinquish the Power of the Brain and Activate the Heart
Eckhart Tolle who wrote A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose said that for people to return to a sense of miraculous in life they need give up their constant labeling and dependence on thought. In other words our brains are too powerful which creates an imbalance as they busily boss us around.
This premise is reinforced by Paul Pearsall in his book The Heart's Code. He wrote that society's dependence on the brain leaves too little room for the aptitude of the heart. The heart path represents a different way of interacting with the world than our current brain-dominant approach. It is time to be open to the flow of heart energy rather than always trying to master and control things.
In his book, Pearsall quotes Emily Dickenson, "Life is a spell so exquisite that everything conspires to break it." He then explains that the brain is responsible for breaking our enchanted spell and recommends sitting still and silencing your mind to remember more profoundly the thrill and wonder of being alive.
Be Childlike and Laugh
American self-help author Wayne Dyer says it's never too late to have a happy childhood. To be more playful, you don't have to give up being a mature elder. Each of us can be both an adult and a child at the same time. His first piece of advice to achieve that is to laugh loud and often.
"The child in you, like all children, loves to laugh, to be around people who can laugh at themselves and life. Children instinctively know that the more laughter we have in our lives, the better," Dyer says.
Pearsall says that science has no explanation for why people laugh but we all know that it has health benefits. He cites research that demonstrates 20 seconds of laughter is as beneficial as three minutes of hard rowing.
Interestingly, animals get along without laughing but Pearsall thinks humans need laughter as a brain bypass. Laughter and wonder are interchangeable. It comes when we give up control and see that it is 'the' way and not 'our' way.
Personally, I consider laughter time spent with God. I strive to "get the cosmic joke" as I know that laughter reduces my load and transcends my suffering. Making a joke has always been the first step for the human race to find acceptance of a situation. It connects us with others, healing and calming us in the process.
"Lead life, don't be led by it," Paul Pearsall said. I couldn't agree more. Whenever I get in a hurry, overly impatient and consumed with worry, I stop and remember to mobilize my senses. Here is what works for me:
Don't just look, see. Think about the sense of wonder that comes you 'oooh' and 'awhhhh' at fireworks and make that your modus operandi each time you look out the window. You'll see things as if you are looking at them for the first or last time and your life will be filled with wonder.
Don't just hear, listen. Be truly present; notice the rustling of the leaves, the chirping of the birds and the whistling of the wind. Open your heart when music is playing and you will really hear it. Don't just eat, taste. Take time to savour the food and feel its texture on your tongue. That's how you eat heartily!
Don't just touch, feel. Enjoy the stimulation that comes from using all those nerve endings in your lips, face, fingertips, and feet. Don't tune out the world around you, tune into your heart and feel ticklish all over. Don't just smell, experience the aroma. Breathe deeply, absorb the smell, and take time to connect with it.
By laughing, opening your heart and truly basking in your senses you can regain your sense of wonder making it so indestructible it will last throughout life. You'll feel it as a child, your stress will be gone and you'll be astonished by the unexpected. Like Willy Wonka you'll experience paradise.