How often do you say “Wow” on any given day?
No judgement. Just curious.
And it’s not really about quantity, of course. Let’s make these high-quality Wows we’re talking about. So it’s about really stopping, noticing the wondrous thing (a beautiful flower, the moon, the quality of the light or air, someone helping someone cross the road) and feeling the wonder from the inside out with a big embodied “Oh wow!”
According to Dr Darach Keltner in his new book Awe: The Transformative Power of Everyday Wonder, wonder is
“the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your current understanding of the world.”
Classically, you experience this kind of awe or wonder when your tiny-ness is exacerbated (but still felt as significant) by whatever you’re experiencing – a range of mountains, the entire universe, the birth of a baby.
As ever with Street Wisdom, we reckon you don’t need to venture out to a giant mountainscape to experience wonder.
How about finding more wonder in the everyday, every day, with the streets all around you?
Or another way of putting it:
Is wonder the thing we’re missing in this busy modern life of ours?
Could wonder be good for us? Could opening up to more wonder make us feel even better? And maybe not even just feel better, do better things that improve all our lives?
Dr Keltner argues that wonder is as critical to our well-being as joy, contentment and love, with huge benefits for calming down our nervous system and triggering the release of oxytocin, the “love” hormone that’s key to trust and bonding.
Psychologically, when we experience a wow moment, we are more likely to quieten our negative self-talk, and move from self to other.
With wonder, we can get out of our own way, in other words.
Street Wisdom is an everyday creative practice you use as you walk, and it can directly boost your wonder superpower! David Pearl, the founder, even wrote a whole book about it – check out Wanderful!
Wonder doesn’t just make you feel great. It can help you “transcend your current understanding of the world”.
Put another way, wonder is the very thing that can help you find new, better ways of living, learning, playing, working, loving and more.
Use these three tips below to help get your wonder back:
Wonder tip 1: Use David Pearl’s Street Wisdom Audio Guide to take yourself on your own personal Walkshop. Be drawn to what attracts you. Slow right down. Notice the patterns. Sense the beauty in everything.
Wonder tip 2: Dr Keltner says we can experience wonder by registering ‘moral beauty’ in others. For example, if you watch someone help an elderly person cross the street, you will probably feel better and more likely to replicate the good deed yourself. Go for a wander and deliberately seek out ‘moral beauty’ in other people. It can be as simple as someone carefully carrying a kid, or smiling as they pass you. It might be someone lifting up a box for someone else. Revel in the wonder of other people!
Wonder tip 3: Dr Keltner says you are more likely to experience awe or wonder if you put yourself in unexpected situations. So go to a new part of town, try out a new cafe, go to a different bookstore. Seek out the unexpected. You might surprise yourself! (It might just be wonderful.)
Read more about Dr Darach Keltner’s new book here: How A Bit Of Awe Can Improve Your Health (New York Times)
Inspired? Fancy some more Street Wisdom in 2023? Join a Walkshop near you, or head out for your own wander right now with our Tune Ups. Buy your own copy of Wanderful, all profits go back into Street Wisdom to help keep it free. Share your insights and follow us @StreetWisdom_