We all hopefully have had at least a few moments of awe in our lives – from seeing an incredible sunset to a baby being born, those moments that take our breath away can carry so much deep meaning, and help us feel connected to life. We know that those who can do this are happier and calmer, less rattled by disappointment and less depressed. But how do you find this in your everyday life? In between the momentous experiences? This is where we need to learn to cultivate finding the joy and the awe, even in the little things. Which means we gotta make a bigger deal of the little things.
The first way to begin down the path to finding awe is to create some stillness so you’re clear enough to see them when they happen. Begin with deep breaths. Stop to notice the little things. Oftentimes we’re so busy rushing from one thing to the next that we missed the real “good stuff” in life. The meaningful connecting moments that make us crack up or swallow hard because they hit us in the gut.
In fact, it’s usually difficult times that make good moments stand out even more like the Good Samaritan pieces on the news. Or you yourself were helped by a neighbor at a dark moment so you truly are grateful and hopeful for humanity. But the way our brains are wired, when there isn’t novelty aka crisis, we ignore the usual things. The brain is built to be future focused for survival however survival isn’t always living now is it?
So how do we practice finding joy, finding meaning and focusing on what matters the most? First we have to define what that means for ourselves. What we value. For me it’s love, connection and serving. I love to see people loving each other and feeling connected to their community, giving them a sense of purpose. It is very powerful when I see people who normally would not get together, join for a common cause to do some good in the midst of all the bad. Some early moments during the pandemic come to mind, such as the music on music that was streaming that also raised money and awareness and honored what we were all walking through and feeling at the time. Focus on what matters most to you. What are your top five values? Why those? Write them down along with why you think you chose those and not others. Then write down some of your core beliefs, such as “people should help each other” or “I have a purpose here.”.
If it’s being in nature take a walk outside. If it’s love and relationships, I want you just to experiment and notice quietly around you. What do you see? Yes, right now you might feel limited to seeing folks on a screen, but pay closer attention. Tune in to what other people are feeling right now by their tone and body language. Or maybe you love beauty, maybe in nature, in art, or in the perfect desert you created last night. What about laughter and fun, such as enjoying a toddlers giggle as they are playing with the puppy…these are the moments. We can often blow them off because they are so fleeting, and we are so quickly off to the next thing. Since they’re not humongous and terrifying or perhaps life changing we underestimate their importance, but they are the moments that add up to create our lives. Before we know it they’re gone and we regret not spending more time in them.
We can’t find awe if were too desensitized and jaded. Watch too much news think all people are bad and the world is crumbling as we speak. Stay too busy and we can become too disconnected from relationships, from sharing moments and thus from the true heartbeat of life. Taking time to decompress, get still, rest and play can help us be more open and welcoming to the moments of joy and awe. We’re no longer too tired or wired to see and feel them, and then soak them in.
So if you’re feeling frazzled lately, take some time to slow down and be still. And just notice. The process will unfold from there.