The feelings that we experience and need to embrace are not simply the negative ones. We have every right to enjoy the positive ones. If we block and shut down the negative ones when they need to be felt and expressed safely, we also block and shut down the joyous ones, so we reduce our bandwidth in the way of the range of feelings that are available for us to experience and enjoy. We have such a wonderful range of feelings that we can experience in this life that it is a shame to miss some of them.
What about the sense of wonder?
Do you remember that childlike wide eyed look that you felt when you saw things that were amazing to you at any age? How long has it been since you have been so overwhelmed by beauty or a sense of connection to the universe that you could respond with a feeling of wonder and awe?
We have those feelings as children, but there is something about being rational and responsible adults, that tends to say NO to those feelings as we get older unless we are really emotionally literate and willing to feel the excitement, joy and pleasure that comes from those experiences which might evoke in us awe or wonder.
It is almost as if we have to give ourselves permission to feel our sense of wonder, awe and joy. Sometimes we feel ashamed of those feelings as if we are not supposed to have them, but if we don’t have them, what feeds our soul? Perhaps it is our hesitation to appear childlike that causes us to shut down those feelings? But feeling childlike is often where your joy lives. Adult pleasure may not have that quality.
I find my sense of wonder is most often activated when I am out in nature. Do you remember the lazy summer days when you lay on the grass and watched the clouds overhead passing by? If I spend time in nature even now, it connects me with the sense of wonder that I feel observing nature in action and feeling both included by it but small in comparison to its power. When I see a small baby, a kitten, or a puppy, I am in awe of the power that has created a system enabling such births into our world, just looking at the perfection, beauty, innocence and vulnerability of those tiny beings. How fortunate we are to be in their presence because they are alive and fresh and new and able to respond to us even though so new to this world. What about looking at the new daffodils in the spring or the rosebuds when they emerge on the bushes as spring deepens into summer? Their beauty is unmistakable and if the roses are in a garden they often develop a most delicious fragrance. What about walking into a beautiful square in the evening when it is dark, and the lamplights are glowing? When I do that, sometimes it nearly takes my breath away and I am so in awe of the sheer beauty that surrounds me. Do you ever notice that deep, dark turquoise blue night sky and the green leaves of the trees set against it when you are returning home at night? That is an experience of natural beauty that depends on the particular shade of blue in the night sky. It can be overwhelming in its simplicity and the feeling of peace that comes from the feeling that everything is right with the world when there is such exquisite colour and beauty to be seen.
When you observe some of the magical moments in nature whether on the beach or in a forest or park or even a square or garden, that may connect you with something bigger that feels nourishing and inclusive, perhaps, and hopefully enables you to feel like you belong in the wholeness of it all?
It is so important to give ourselves time to be, to relax and enjoy in nature so we can become playful again like we were as children.
Those kinds of times help to balance all the ‘responsible’ and ‘adult’ time we need to spend working and functioning. Even in the quiet times of doing housework or cleaning, we can experience a sense of wonder because those times sometimes become meditative and as we do repetitive things, we can travel into worlds heretofore unknown that are full and rich and alive with meaning. Then even our working time can feel kind of carefree and even playful because it is as if we are in our own private bubble.
We need to encourage and plan times for the kind of carefree feeling that we once knew when we were young as a way of disconnecting from the intensity of life in the modern world. Then we can return to that intensity refreshed and better able to be effective in whatever tasks we must do.
Do you ever play or draw or paint or colour? Those are activities that can open you to your sense of wonder and if you allow times for them, your life may be enriched beyond your expectation. For many people music may be an entrance into that kind of carefree reverie.
We each have particular ways in which to reconnect with our sense of awe and wonder and it is very important to make doing so a priority so we do not lose touch with the joy that such feelings bring.