Where I live on Vancouver Island, there is a species of hummingbird that does not migrate south in the winter. The Anna’s hummingbird relies on the kindness of humans to provide sugar water feeders in the winter to survive the cold months when no flower nectar is available. In return, these little bundles of energy entertain and delight with flying antics and amazing intelligence.
I love to watch my resident hummingbirds as they battle for feeder supremacy, diving, swooping and darting in and out of the trees and under the eve of my sundeck roof in fierce aerial maneuvers.
Hummingbirds love to play in water as well. Bring out the garden hose and a hummer will sure to show up to frolic in the spray of the water.
Why am I talking about hummingbirds? I’m using the example of this tiny bird to show that something that easily fits in the palm of your hand can provide such joy. If you are lucky enough to have them live in your garden you can not help but feel wonder-full watching the acrobatic antics of a hummer.
That’s the thing about being filled with wonder, it’s usually the small simple things in life that bring the most amazement, an ingredient that currently the world seems to be in short supply of. So how can we bring more of it into our life – and why should we?
The main reason is that humans are making life much harder than it ever was suppose to be. Most of the time the struggle is all in our heads and the challenges and angst that forms there sucks the joy and wonder right out of us. We are not here to toil for no reason, we are here to experience all that life on earth has to offer. To experience wonder is to see the gift of life.
To experience wonder
is to see the gift of life.
Mastering the art of being wonder-full requires breaking down the elements of an experience to find the simplistic joys. Watch a hummingbird as it flits from flower to flower and be in curiosity as to how it’s tiny wings can beat so fast that the bird can hover in mid-air. Delight in it’s playfulness as it swoops straight up in the air, then dives back, straight down again. Marvel in it’s warrior strategy as it defends a sugar water feeder. Now notice how you felt in those few moments of observation. Did your heart open a little in joy? Was your brain disengaged for a time from the worries of the day? Where you amazed, even just a little, by how nature created this wonder of flight, and was that a smile that formed on your face? I bet you didn’t even realise it was there.
If any of those emotions happened, then you were practising the art of wonder. By choosing to be curious and taking the time to notice the things that are often right in front of us but seemingly hidden from our immediate attention, your body will reward you with a hit of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that makes you feel happy.
Nature is full of wonder-full experiences. Every season gifts us with simple joys and amazing experiences. The blossoming of spring, the joy of fireflies dancing on a warm summer evening, the crisp, colourful autumn landscape, or the peaceful quiet of a blanket of fresh fallen snow in the middle of winter, these are all cause to feel wonder. But nature is not the only place to see such marvels, just take a moment to look at what is right in front of you. The device that you are probably reading this blog post on for example, is an astonishment in itself. How can a little box provide access to a world full of knowledge? I know that I stand in absolute awe with this technology I can hold in my hand.
Practising the art of being wonder-full is one of the best ways I know to ward off depression and anxiety. Depression keeps your thoughts focused on past regrets while anxiety holds you in the future with scenarios and fears that may or may not happen, but when you practise looking for experiences that hold you in wonder, you are living in the present moment because you are focused on what is happening right in front of your eyes.
Do you know someone who has a happy, child like, energy about them? I’ll bet that for the most part, they are a joy to be around. Odds are they have perfected the art of being wonder-full. Wouldn’t you like folks to see that same sparkle of wonderment in your eyes?
In a world that is inundated with, fear mongering, hate and negativity, it is the simple experiences that will balance your energies and bring you the most joy. Practising the art of being wonder-full, being curious and seeking out experiences that fascinate your brain are the best antidotes to a world tilted to the cynical. Look for the delights of nature. Be in awe of human achievement. Fill your self with wonder and take back your right to live in happiness.
Fill your self with wonder and take back your right to live in happiness.
If a bird as tiny as a hummingbird can show us such a great big lesson by just paying attention to how it lives, what other experiences are out there just waiting for us to be filled with amazing wonder. Like all art forms, practice is required for mastery but few skills are as enjoyable to perfect as the art of being wonder-full. Even thinking about it brings joy.