If you’ve been following Crystal Witnesses Wonders, you know I usually use quirky personal anecdotes as the basis for my posts. But what if you’d like to experience more wonder in your own life? What if you’d like to spend more time in awe, more time amazed, more time delighted at the world around you?
Let’s take an experimental detour this week. If it’s a dreadful disappointment, we’ll return immediately to our regular programming and never speak of this again. If you’d like more content like this, please say so in the comments below. I’ll definitely have more to say about each of these five tips.
But right now, let’s dip our toes into some how-to goodness. Keep reading for advice on the Adventure Attitude, Starting Small, Making Mindfulness, Cultivating Curiosity, and Gathering Gratitude.
Wonder doesn’t just happen—at least, not often. Wonder is a practice. Wonder is a conversation you have with the world. And, like any good conversation, you can only truly control your side. You must listen at least as much as you speak. You must ask questions. You must engage. These are five ways I do so in my own life:
1: Adventure Attitude
Growing up, when things went sideways, my mom would tell us we were having an adventure. Heading into an unfamiliar restaurant because the one we’d travelled to was out of business? “Let’s have an adventure!” Took a wrong turn in Albuquerque? “This turned into an adventure!” Ended up soaking wet because the hike took us near the waterfall during a historically-huge snowmelt? “Wow, what a great adventure!”
It’s become a defining skill in my life—reframing personal mishaps, disasters, and even tragedies through an adventure attitude allows flexibility and internal empowerment in some profound ways.
Anything can happen on an adventure. Overcoming obstacles is part of the experience. Facing challenges head-on comes with the territory. Coming out bruised and exhausted is par for the course. But no matter what—in victory or defeat—an adventure teaches you something about yourself.
Maybe it teaches you that you really enjoy a new kind of cuisine—or don’t. Maybe you spot a funky landscape feature you never would’ve noticed without your navigation error. Maybe you see an amazing rainbow through thick waterfall spray and learn that summer hikes are cooler when you’re soaked to the skin (but not so great with wet shoes).
Most of all, the adventure attitude let you experience wonders as they happen when you might otherwise wallow in disappointment.
Try it for yourself. Tell yourself you’re having an adventure, and see what wonders you encounter.
2: Start Small
Very occasionally, wonder will seize your shoulders and make its point with thunder and lightning. If you’ve spent your life waiting for wonder to appear before you, it’s easy to assume these are the only wonders that count: the wedding day, the mountaintop, the meet-and-greet with your favorite band.
Those moments count. But so do the quiet moments in between.
When wonder is a practice, you’ll find it everywhere, in places you’d never think to look. And you won’t need to wait. You don’t need a year of planning, or a passport, or gear, or the cash for backstage passes.
You can start today. Start small, by seeking wonder in things that are ordinary. The bird dramas unfolding outside your window. Dot-to-dot images emerging on your bathroom ceiling. Those glow-in-the-dark dinosaur toys for sale in the cereal aisle.
Don’t wait for big wonders. Let little wonders mystify you every day.
3: Make Mindfulness
Mindfulness is an enormous part of starting small. Unfortunately, the esoteric ways mindfulness is sometimes discussed can feel exclusive and advanced. If that’s been your experience, don’t fear. I swear it’s really simple.
Mindfulness is just a fancy way of saying pay attention. Pay attention! Actually witness what’s happening around you. What you’re tasting. What you’re hearing. What you’re smelling, feeling, seeing. Enjoy the warmth of the clothes you’re pulling from the dryer. See the grains in the wood on your coffee table. Hear your cat purring—really hear it, in detail, the way the tones of it shift and deepen and blend with her voice.
I’m saying to make mindfulness because the practice is active. You’ve got to choose mindfulness, and do so over and over again. The human brain is wired for advanced thought, analysis, and planning. It’s easy to get caught up in thought so much that we lose track of what’s happening right now, beneath our feet, before our eyes, under our noses.
You’ve got to choose to shush your brain sometimes so you can experience more things worth investigating in that miraculous agile human mind of yours.
Stop rushing, and make mindfulness the way you’d craft a gift. Thoughtfully. Intentionally. Because make no mistake: mindfulness is a gift. It’s the lens that brings small wonders into exquisite focus.
4: Cultivate Curiosity
Wonder is both a noun and a verb. The meanings feed into one another—feeling wonder frequently goes hand-in-hand with wondering, even if all you’re wondering is how such wonders can exist. Wondering can also guide you right to wonders.
Once you’ve begun making mindfulness, curiosity becomes your guru.
What are your thoughts about what you’re feeling, hearing, smelling? Do you enjoy a particular flavor more than you realized? Are you attracted to a particular color combination? Why?
Start asking questions. Ask questions as you did when you were a child. Track the answers down and then ask more. Ask questions about yourself. Ask questions about the world. Let your questions light your way down strange and quirky paths.
There’s a reason I refer to the world sometimes as a curiosity cabinet: it’s because the more curiosity you cultivate in the world around you, the more wonders appear. The wonders always existed—but curiosity unlocks their potential within each individual personality.
Your curiosity is the only thing that will show personalized wonders to you.
5: Gather Gratitude
Attitude of gratitude. Count your blessings. It doesn’t matter what you call it, so long as it works for you. But for me? Counting isn’t active enough.
Counting suggests that you’ve got an objective number of things to be grateful for. If you start tallying them, you’ll realize there are more than you think. The practice is tried and true, and I’m not here to knock it.
But there’s an element of helplessness in counting alone. An element of simply being aware of and grateful for gifts bestowed upon you by forces beyond your control.
I say you can gather gratitude. I say you can go out of your way to find things to be grateful for. Absolutely count the blessings that exist. But go deeper than that. Walk through the world searching for extra gratitude—not items, but wonders.
Turn your life into a gratitude scavenger hunt. Collect smiles and bizarre contradictions. Hoard moments of grace. Chase down adventures. Be grateful for it all.
Don’t just count blessings after they already exist. Gather gratitude.
This is just a brief overview of the five topics I’ve chosen for today, but it’s enough to get you started. Witnessing wonders really is all about attitude and awareness, and these five tools will help you experience more wonder right away. And each of them becomes easier with practice.
Please let me know in the comments whether or not you enjoyed this piece and if you’d be interested in similar pieces in the future. This blog will always be first and foremost a celebration of individual wonders, but I’d be happy to branch out as well. I can absolutely see an in-depth post on each of the above topics, and many more besides.
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See you in the comments!