October 25, 2017

7 Ways to Cultivate Wonder in an Effed-Up World.

We’re living in challenging times.

The daily headlines can be overwhelming, leading us to wonder what kind of world we live in.

And yet…despite all the brokenness, all the challenges and tragedies, life here on Earth is still pretty amazing. Here are seven ways to fight the bad news burnout and restore a sense of wonder:

Do one thing at a time.

As a working mom, I’m often doing approximately 83-jazillion things at any given time. While multitasking can boost my productivity, it also tamps down my ability to see beauty.

By reminding myself to try and focus on just one thing at a time, I’m much more likely to notice those crazy little patches of white-blond hair on my dark-haired son’s temples, or the dribbles of light hitting lemon-colored leaves in my backyard. And noticing these small beauties is a form of worship.

Consider the origins of everything.

I went to a mindfulness class the other night, and the teacher led us through an exercise with a Hershey’s kiss. First, she had us just look at the purple-wrapped dark chocolate. “Think about all the ingredients that had to be harvested to bring this little piece of chocolate to you,” she said. Usually, I’d just tear into the chocolate, barely tasting it. But when I thought about the cacao beans and the sugar cane being harvested, and all the things that had to happen to bring this chocolate here—its very existence became sort of amazing.

The same goes for the beginnings of everything—how often do I look at one of my children and forget the chain of miracles that spun them into existence? Everything—you, me, the Earth—at one time began. How weird and wonderful is that?

Blow bubbles.

I don’t know what it is, but no matter how old I am, I can still sit and blow bubbles with one of my kids—or by myself—and feel like I’m six years old again.

The liquid transforming into floating orbs, the glittery iridescence of those perfect spheres, and even the bittersweet popping, splintering back to liquid—there is just something magical and ethereal about bubbles. If you’re struggling to stay afloat in the world right now, I implore you to go blow some bubbles and see if you don’t feel a fraction better afterward.

Zoom in.

Have you ever stared at the back of your hand and noticed all the tiny triangles across your skin? Have you ever stared at the surface of bones and veins as if they were their own landscape? Or gotten so quiet and still you could feel your heart beating in your chest, and envisioned it—the chambers and ventricles, the steady, hidden thrum of blood that keeps us alive? It’s so easy to take life for granted. To forget how intricate, how poetic existence is.

Get outside.

Being present to nature’s resilience reminds us that life keeps on keepin’ on, no matter what the latest headlines say. Look at a tree fallen from a storm: see the microcosm of moss growing on it. The home it’s become to a town of tiny spiders. Or head to the ocean, and stand there until the breath of the waves settles you, reminding you that there’s an unseen rhythm at work.


Maybe it’s because I work from home and much of my days are spent in sweet, writerly solitude, but few things light me up like having an unexpected, genuine interaction with another human. Something as simple as looking the person ringing up my groceries in the eye and asking how their day is going can turn into a moment of wonder.

Embrace the “and.”

I’m not saying we should all be news-ignoring Pollyannas who douse ourselves in glitter and prance around beaming all the time. But, the world feels like a really hard place right now for many, and when I focus too much of my energy on the negatives, it blots out the lovely parts of life.

The truth is, dark and light always exist together—we wouldn’t be able to see one without the other. Awful things are happening, and our lives can still be full of love. None of us will live forever, and what a treat to sit here, staring out the window as the prettiest maroon leaves drip to the ground. The more we can notice the lovely moments as they happen, the more wonder we feel.

And I don’t know about you, but I could sure use some wonder right about now.



Beautiful Simplicity: It’s the Little Things.


Author: Lynn Shattuck
Image: Alejandro Alvarez/Unsplash
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis



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