The Wonder of Wonder

I love the quality of wonder. It evokes curiosity, exploration, and the humility to simply not have all the answers. When we wonder, we ask questions. We open our hearts and minds. We are as children.

Clinically, wonder is a very useful tool. When first learning mindfulness skills in therapy, clients often judge themselves quite harshly. For example, they might become aware that they feel anxious, or that their mind is racing, or alternatively that they feel nothing at all. Almost without fail, their inner dialogue will then run something like this:

“I’m doing this wrong. I’m such an idiot. I’ll never get it right. Nothing will help me. I hate mindfulness.”

Interestingly, this is the opposite of what mindfulness is meant to teach us, and where wonder comes in handy. Imagine simply noticing your feeling state, and exploring it without judgement. The inner dialogue might sound quite different:

“I notice that I’m feeling shame/boredom/anxiety/frustration.”

And that’s it. No judgement – just awareness, with a mild curiosity. No need to have the answers; no need to do anything at all. When we explore with open-hearted wonder, we can befriend ourselves with kindness. Of course, it takes practice to unlearn our adult ways. The poet e.e. cummings once wrote,

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

What small thing can you do today to cultivate the quality of wonder?

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