How to Lead a Wonder-full Life

Have you ever seen small children discover and track a winding line of ants for the first time? They join the caravan on all fours, and squealing and squinting, they crowd the imperturbable hikers with their noses for a face-to-face look!

We are born spontaneously sensitive to marvels. In our early years our awareness of the world’s wonders is effortless and extravagant. All of life leaves us astonished, excited and joyous.

Moving into adulthood, our senses and appetite seem to dull. We recall wistfully how we once thrilled so often and to so much. To quell the bit of ache inside, we tell ourselves, “Surprises are rarer now.”

Or are they?

I was left musing on this last weekend, when I overnighted at a lodge in the piney folds of southern California’s mountains. Coming from Phoenix—hermetically sealed and odorlessly air conditioned against wilting heat for much of the year—I was delighted by the fragrance and prickle of the chill sierra air. Cabin windows wide open, I felt refreshed, happy and contented under my comforter.

At dawn the next morning I was headed to the main lodge for coffee when I heard an odd noise and the air above me seemed to quiver. A bird fanned over in the space of a sigh, and I caught my breath as I realized that the sound I was hearing was the whisper of its wing sweeps.

My logical mind tells me that surely I must have heard this sound before. My heart danced this time because I looked up to the sky with the wonder of a child and noticed it.

These delicious episodes reminded me that surprises remain common, because life never ceases to yield us wonders. The key to experiencing them is to notice them—that is, to focus on them.

The Law of Attraction tells us that we get what we focus on. If the only wonder in your life is that you wonder what happened to your life, you need to embark mindfully on a scavenger hunt for anything that may leave you marveling:

o Receiving heartfelt thanks for your help.

o Unexpected praise from your boss.

o A stranger’s shy smile.

o The rustle of tree leaves.

o Children laughing.

o An elderly couple hand in hand.

o The acid bite of coffee on your tongue.

o A meeting cancelled.

o A meeting scheduled.

o Rain pattering on your roof. (Well, not so often in Phoenix!)

Another way of saying “You get what you focus on” is “You get what you measure.” So I urge you also to record the wonders you experience and your reactions to them.

Buy a small notebook, or staple one together from a few sheets of paper. Title it with whatever thought that will inspire you to use it. And whenever you see, hear, feel, taste or touch something that surprises and delights, write it down.

To paraphrase my friend Esther Hicks, do not strive for a happy life. Instead, strive for happy moments that add up to a happy life.

Download a PDF of this column