The Sense Of Wonder Approach

During the early 1970s I visited some of the sages well-known for their work in helping young people. These included people such as George Lyward, David Wills and Henry Pluckrose. During the sessions we explored the following themes.

How can we help young people to experience a sense of wonder? How can we help them to clarify what they learn during such times? How can we help them to apply these lessons in their future lives?

Some people retain the ability to enjoy a sense of wonder. Some seem to regain it as they get older. Such people appreciate life and aim to enjoy each day.

There are many views about what constitutes wonder. Neel Burton provides some excellent insights in an essay he wrote for his website and Psychology Today. Here are excerpts from the piece.

The Psychology and Philosophy of Wonder

Wonder is the feeling of a philosopher,
and philosophy beings in wonder. Plato

Wonder is a complex emotion involving elements of surprise, curiosity, contemplation, and joy.

It is perhaps best defined as a heightened state of consciousness and emotion brought about by something singularly beautiful, rare, or unexpected – that is, by a marvel.

Aquinas speaks of philosophers and poets as one because both are moved by marvels, with the purpose of poetry being, broadly, to record and in some sense recreate marvels, to inspire wonder.

Wonder is most similar to awe. But awe is more explicitly directed at something that is much greater or stronger than ourselves. Wonder involves important elements of surprise and curiosity, both of which are forms of interest.

Wonder can be excited by grand vistas, natural phenomena, human intellectual and physical achievement, and extraordinary facts and figures, among others.

By drawing us out of ourselves, wonder reconnects us with something much greater than our daily grind. It is the ultimate homecoming, returning us to the world that we came from and were in danger of taking for granted.

Neel describes the value of retaining a sense of wonder and the capacity to marvel throughout our lives. Some people retain this ability or regain it at certain points of life. This can lead to continuing to seeing life as magical.

Some individuals get to a point where they take stock. They may then ask themselves the following questions.

“What do I want to do with the rest of my life? Why do I want to do these things? How can I use my life experience to help other people? How can I pass on a positive legacy?”

They take the magical approach rather than the more approach. They forgo the addiction to getting more of everything.

They enjoy life and want to encourage both present and future generations. They believe it important to care for people and the planet. They encourage people to appreciate and protect what can be a magical life.

Let’s return to your own life. Can you think of a time when you experienced a sense of wonder? What did you learn or relearn from the experience? How have you tried – or continue to try – to follow some of those lessons in your life?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

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