Tracking Wonder

How to cultivate this elusive emotion

Three Acts to Make 2011 a Wonder Year

For a wondrous 2011, reflect, anticipate, and just be.

Okay, I know you might want to let wonder roam on its own, untethered by too much will or intention and, for crying out loud, goal-setting for the new year.

But will works if coaxed the right way. That is, if advances in current social, cognitive, and motivational psychology; neuropsychology; and Buddhism & yoga psychology have shown us anything during the past ten years it's that intentional acts and mindful practices can shift our emotional outlook, perspective, productivity, and well-being.That's the gist of this blog and of my work as a consultant, researcher, and writer, too: We can create the right conditions for a wondrous life to happen.

It's my adamant belief and mode of operation that the Wonder Years are not reserved solely for the eight-year-old to twelve-year-old set. 36. 45. 68. These are Wonder Years, too. What about your 2011? Will it be a Wonder Year?

Here are three resources to get you started:

1. Reflect on 2010. We make meaning of the present and future in part by making meaning of what has passed. Memory and imagination shape meaning. And here's a structured, fun, challenging way to do so this December: Join the Reverb10 Project and reflect upon Wonder and other things in 2010. Social media diva Gwen Bell has launched a smart, meaningful project called Reverb10. The gist is this: For each of 31 days in December, a different published author will pose a prompt to help you reflect upon 2010. Some twists  make this project exciting to witness as it unfolds:

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* Some 3000 bloggers from around the world have signed off on a commitment to post responses every day to every response.
* The Twitter page at reverb10 offers a chorus for people to share and respond to each other's responses to that day's prompt. It's a veritable Wonderfest.

Wonder is today's prompt. Gwen selected me for today's prompt (I'm honored to be squeezed in with Gretchen Rubin, Scott Belsky, and other writers/human beings whom I admire.). Here is the prompt in full: Wonder. How have you cultivated a sense of wonder in your life this year? The responses so far are dazzling - from mothers and nature-lovers to librarians and book lovers to newly weds to, well, you name it.

One thing that interests me is to notice how many bloggers have started their prompts with definitions of wonder or with admissions that they don't really know what "a sense of wonder" is. That doesn't surprise me. That's why I call it the most pervasive and evasive human emotion. And that's one reason why it can benefit us to identify and deliberately cultivate more of it as adults.

2. Anticipate 2011, and consider goals in a new light. Many creatives and creative entrepreneurs struggle with conventional goal-setting. At A Hut of Questions, I've offered a few distinctions between performance goals and learning/mastery goals based on psychologist Carol Dweck's research as summarized in Daniel Pink's highly readable book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Drop in the hut.

3. Just be here, and join the Wild Pack. My small team and I have designed two TRACKING WONDER HANDBOOKS. TW HB ONE offers eight pages of 5 ways to bring more curiosity, delight, and surprise into your professional and personal life. TW HB TWO gives you a feast of 20-plus potentially serendipitous resources that will keep you open to surprise. Just send an email to jeffrey [at] trackingwonder [dot] com with WILD PACK in the subject box, and we'll send them to you. If possible, in the name of reciprocity, we ask that you try to send out a message to ten people similar to you who are hungry to change how creativity happens in this world and let them know about our Tracking Wonder projects. These handbooks are chock-full of ideas for making 2011 the most wondrous year of your life - no matter what happens.

To shift the quality of next year, start with this day, this moment. "To affect the quality of a day, that is the highest of the arts," so sayeth Thoreau.

What About You?
* How have you cultivated a sense of wonder in your life in 2010?
* What is calling your best self to act well in the world in 2011?
* What does your best self aspire to learn, even master in 2011?
* How are you being open to surprise, delight, and possibility this day and every day?

See you in the woods,

Jeffrey

Tracking Wonder Blog at PsychologyToday
A Hut of Questions at trackingwonder.com

 

 

 

 

Jeffrey Davis is a creativity consultant and author of The Journey from the Center to the Page: Yoga Philosophies and Practices as Muse for Authentic Writing.

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