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5 Ways to Have 'Wonder Moments'

02/23/2015 03:59 pm ET | Updated Apr 25, 2015
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In Arianna Huffington's book Thrive, she asserts that one of the pillars to well-being is wonder. Have you ever wondered where the wonder went in your life? The complexity of our lives can impact us on every level, manifesting as mental worry, emotional reactivity, or physical anxiety. Have you ever been so busy during the day that at the end of it the only thing you wonder is what you did with all your time?

When we experience wonder we are open to discovering the joy and beauty of life. I think that wonder can happen in a matter of seconds. Here are some of the things you can do to have "Wonder Moments" at any time during the day:

1. Shift perspective.
Go outside and look up at the sky. Often we simply need to change our viewpoint to know there's something bigger at play. Looking up can shift our focus and open our perspective. When we expand our perspective, we start to relax.

2. Thank yourself.
The demands we place on ourselves shut down our joy. If you're like most people I know, you are handing a lot every day. On some days, it can be as simple as thanking yourself for getting out of bed that day! Take a moment to find something (anything) to thank and appreciate yourself for at least once a day.

3. Take a breath.
Pick a time every day and set an alarm. When the alarm goes off, take a breath and slow yourself down to be present in that moment. Multi-tasking is the enemy of living a heroic life since it can fragment our focus and take us out of the present. When we're present, we are open to discovering things we miss when we move so quickly.

4. Find the humor.
I've had plenty of experiences that while they were happening seemed like a catastrophe, but later became highly entertaining stories I would share with friends. If it's going to be funny in six months, why not find the humor in it now? For example, in the mid-1990s I entered the corporate world as a trainer and coach. The clients I started working with were banks in the southern U.S. In the '90s there was a definite corporate uniform for women in banks: skirt suits and pumps. I was sent to Microsoft (then an up-and-coming company) to work with a sales group on their presentation skills. In I walk wearing my elegant skirt suit. I looked around me. Everyone else was dressed in shorts and t-shirts. One of the "rules" in Presentation Skills is to be dressed a little better than your audience but not so much better that they can't relate to you.

In horror, I whispered to one of the participants standing next to me, "What's the dress code here?"

He replied, "Oh, it just changed."

I assumed that meant it had been formal, and now it had changed to casual.

"Whew," I thought, "At least I don't look that out of place."

Then he said, "Yeah, now we have to wear shoes, and we can't bring dogs to the office."

I felt faint because in that moment, I knew I had lost the group, and I never recovered from the blow. At the time it felt like a disaster but when I shared the story a few days later, I burst out laughing!

(For those who don't know, IT companies in the '90s introduced the standard of business casual into the workplace.)

5. Be spontaneous.
For years I have presented trainings in productivity, and I have awesome systems for managing and tracking my life that keep me on top of what I need to get done. Because there is always more to do than I can get done in a day, I've been asked, "Your life is so planned -- where's the spontaneity?" My response is that periodically, I plan spontaneous time because if I don't, all my to-dos end up hijacking my time. I will block time in my calendar and consider it "open space." When that "appointment" shows up, I ask myself, "What can I do right now that would be fun?" I give myself permission to do something completely unplanned and sometimes a bit outrageous or adventurous. I've had some wonder-filled (I might even go so far to say, "magical") experiences as a result. Once during one of the blocks of time I reserved as "spontaneous" time, I decided to take a beach walk and thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to meet someone new?" As a result I met Annie, a 5-year-old girl, and her family, who shared peanuts and watermelon with me. We laughed and watched the dolphins swim by. I was so touched by how they included me for a brief moment in their family day at the beach.

If you want to experience more wonder, make an intention to do so. Sometimes it can show up in the most unexpected ways!