When we experience wonder, something magical happens. Our senses become heightened, our hearts open up, and we're filled with a sense of awe and amazement. We're transported to a place beyond ourselves, where the beauty and mystery of the world around us takes center stage.
One of the most awe-inspiring moments of my life happened when I looked up. We were camping in Chaco Culture National Park, a certified International Dark Sky Park. As I turned my head up, I was spellbound by the sheer numbers of shimmering points of light, the Milky Way stretching across the horizon, a cosmic river of stars and dust. In that moment, I felt small and infinite, I felt a visceral connection to the world around me and through my tears I submitted to the universe. What I felt was a unique emotion - wonder and awe creating the “overview effect”.
"We all have a thirst for wonder. It's a deeply human quality. Science and religion are both bound up with it. - Carl Sagan
What exactly happens when we experience wonder? It turns out that the effects of wonder go far beyond just a fleeting feeling of joy. Research has shown that experiencing wonder can have profound effects on our physical and mental well-being.
Wonder has the power to shift our perspective. When we're caught up in the wonder of the world around us, we're able to let go of our worries and concerns, and just be in the present moment. This can help to reduce cortisol levels in the body, which can have a positive impact on our overall health.
Wonder can help us to cultivate a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the world around us. When we experience wonder, we're reminded of the beauty and goodness that exists in the world. We're reminded of the incredible things that humans are capable of, and the wonders of nature that surround us. This sense of gratitude and appreciation can help us to live more fulfilling lives. When we're focused on the wonder and beauty of the world, we're less likely to get bogged down in negativity and cynicism. We're more likely to approach life with a sense of optimism and hope, even in the face of challenges and difficulties.
"He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed." - Albert Einstein
Wonder can also inspire creativity and innovation. When we're in a state of wonder, our minds are open and receptive to new ideas and perspectives. We might be inspired to write a poem, paint a picture, or create something entirely new. This creative spark can help us to approach problems in new and innovative ways, and can lead to breakthroughs in our work and personal lives.
So how can we cultivate a sense of wonder in our lives? It starts by being open to the world around us, by taking the time to notice the beauty and mystery that surrounds us every day. It's about embracing the unknown and being willing to explore and discover.
“What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?” - Rachel Carson
As we cultivate a sense of wonder, we're able to experience the world in a new and profound way. We're able to connect with others, to reduce stress and anxiety, to boost creativity and problem-solving abilities, and to find inspiration and joy in the everyday moments of our lives. So let's embrace wonder, and allow ourselves to be transformed by the magic of the world around us.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
- William Wordsworth
Let us not give our hearts away, but instead open them up to the wonder and beauty of the world.