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Treating depression, anxiety, stress with wonder

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s easy to feel wonder and awe when looking at, listening to, feeling, or tasting something new, unusual, or unique. I have had the opportunity to visit many awe-inspiring and wondrous places, both natural—like the Serengeti and Kilauea Volcano—and man-made—like Gaudi’s Familia Sagrada and Machu Picchu. That feeling of “wow!” that grabs your attention is undeniable.

But how often do we feel wonder in our normal everyday lives? The other day I was driving to yoga when I had one of those moments. It happened spontaneously, that feeling of wonder, about something that I do on a near daily basis. I felt wonder about the fact that I was moving a heavy metal object with me inside of it with just the push of a pedal and a turn of a wheel.

This was nothing new, unusual, nor unique, and yet there it was—wonder. If you think about it though, it is pretty amazing, and there are plenty of wondrous things around us if we care to look. One of the benefits of looking for elements of wonder in our day is that it brings our attention to the present moment. We need to slow down for a bit to notice. And, along with wonder is often a feeling of gratitude for just that experience.

In this fast-paced world of nose-in-phone, short-attention-span living, taking these moments becomes even more important to help us bring balance to our lives. Feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, fear, worry, anger, frustration, detachment, and loneliness can be managed. It’s hard to feel those emotions at the same time as experiencing a feeling of wonder.

The moment I had was not planned—I was not trying to feel awe. It just happened. We can, however, cultivate this by setting aside a brief time to stop, take in some deep breaths, and observe. Pay attention to nature, animals, people, and even your own body so that you can notice some of the things that are amazing. Then allow yourself to really feel that feeling.

Every day I see people at my clinic who are overwhelmed. I would like to prescribe a daily dose of wonder.

 

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