Wonder is one of my favorite words and states of being. It activates a beginner's mindset, motivates curiosity and allows new information to be received with an open, tender field of attention. Wonder is central to mindfulness practice.
Three definitions pop up when I google the definition of wonder:
a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable
to desire or be curious to know something
to feel doubt**
When we can be in a moment with fresh eyes, remembering that we've never experienced this moment before - all of the experience is unknown and uncertain - even novel. Even doing things that we've done a thousand times. Can folding laundry or driving to work each day feel fresh and new? I think they can when we approach these activities with mindfulness. No two moments are ever the same.
Something as simple as brushing our teeth each morning can be filled with wonder. Noticing the temperature of the water, the taste of the tooth paste, the movement of the bristles over our teeth and gums. Awareness brings this sensory experience to life. It allows us to marvel and find pleasantness in mundane activities.
If something feels fresh and we approach moments of our lives as if we're seeing it for the first time, we automatically ignite curiosity. When we're curious, we're open. We're not assuming we know. We're not letting our expectations or past experiences cloud what is actually happening before us. And when we're operating from curiosity, we're often a bit more tender and gentle with ourselves.
Even if we're an expert in some area or have decades of experience doing something, it is still beneficial to meet what is happening right now with curiosity. There is endless learning available to us if we are open to it. We pass by so much in life because we think, "I already know."
The last piece of wonder is doubt. The questions we ask when we're curious, the holes in our perspective, the desire to know more - all of that can be fueled in part by doubt. In fact, thinking of doubt this way helps us understand its helping role in our minds.
When we embrace doubt in the context of wonder, we lean into the unknown. Doing this with the small moments of our lives helps us bring it forward in the bigger moments as well. Often when we're most engaged in something, the doubt creeps in - because we care, because we're interested. Noticing when doubt surfaces as a component of wonder- a signal to open more fully to what is here - is one way to bring more awareness into your life.
Living with the intention to experience wonder underpins mindfulness practice. Wonder opens us to the colorful vibrancy that exists in life and helps us engage with those moments fully.
**(via Oxford Languages/Google.)
Please share in the comments below how wonder has helped you have more presence in your life.