For most of us, our younger years are synonymous with the simple joys of being carefree. While not everyone had an easy childhood, we probably remember the capacity we had to marvel at trivial things. The wonder of discovering the world around us was an everyday occurrence. Is it because we ‘know’ the world that it is increasingly difficult to recapture this sense of wonder today?
We think we know the world, but most of the time we are repeating ideas that we have heard, i.e. they are not the result of our own personal and deep experience. We repeat ideas in our heads like automatons, so that they form roads that form preconceived ideas. Finally, we experience the world through filters that prevent us from truly feeling things. This distancing makes wonder difficult or impossible. If a young child marvels at an ant, it is because he has no preconceived ideas about it and is able to discover and understand it on the day we meet it. Of course, it would be naïve or even grotesque to want to fall back into childhood and marvel at the same things we did when we were only 4 years old. Yet the idea of being able to marvel easily should never leave us. It’s a power we all have, but one that we almost consciously choose to lose as our formal education gets stronger. How do we regain this ability that makes joy within reach?
What characterises small children is their overflow of energy. They are like batteries and will not shy away from using up energy if it means they can have fun. Of course, at the end of the day, children are tired and they just want to fall into the arms of Morpheus. This freshness, so characteristic of childhood, is something we could learn from as adults. Of course, children have the advantage of their age, which gives them this boundless energy, the same as that of young tree shoots that are as bright green as their youth. Nevertheless, we can preserve and grow this energy, even if we are adults. An adult, if he wants to keep his vitality, must do a number of things every day to optimise his energy capital. These habits are quite simple, and include getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising and thinking kindly (or positively) about others. By cultivating this ‘cocktail’ you will be able to connect more with nature and others, because ultimately what is wonder if not a moment in which we resonate with something? Wonder is being able to capture the quintessence of a person, a plant, an animal, it is creating a connection that stimulates our mind and heart. In order to make this possible, we must have enough energy to put our heart and mind at the service of this “encounter”.
There is an idea of immediate gratitude in wonder. When we marvel, we are finally showing our gratitude. We appreciate what we see and we don’t hide our emotions in any way. We respond sincerely and gratefully to external stimulation. Without gratitude, there is no wonder. To develop gratitude, you have to learn to say thank you in your head and in your heart. It means thanking the things you have when you can. The human brain is like that, it thinks mainly about what it lacks, so you have to train it to think about the things it already has. Remembering how lucky we are and valuing the quality of the people around us is important for appreciating life and creating a space for future wonder.
Children, because they are for the most part non-judgmental, are in fact little wise men in their own way. We should be able to use them as an example to reconnect with that non-judgmental or hostile gaze. This easy trust is of course problematic in a world that tends to abuse a form of kindness. Yet, someone who is able to both give fully of their trust and learn to stand up for themselves when necessary, is able to live to their full potential. On the other hand, the desire to possess or to change others can be a barrier to seeing things as they really are. Our desires tend to distort our perception of reality. When we are dominated by strong desires, we are no longer able to be objective, we make subjectivity the rule and this takes us away from the possibility of wonder.
Recreating the inner wonder
In order to marvel, our inner wonder must come into contact with the outer wonder. To do this, we need to cultivate a form of inner purity, foremost among which is that of our thoughts. The child marvels because it is immaculate, it is innocent. His innocence allows him to marvel. This is why it is more than essential to develop a routine that allows you to clear your mind and not be troubled by unhealthy desires or negative thoughts. There is no secret to this, the remedies are known to all but the hardest part is to apply them assiduously. Whether it is yoga, chi-gong, meditation, reading, music therapy, prayer, psychotherapy, etc., all you have to do is choose an activity that suits you and devote yourself to it religiously every day.