Look at the world through the eyes of a child – full of wonder and possibility.
When we're children, one of the first questions we learn is "Why?" We have an insatiable hunger to know more about the world around us and we “wonder” about it. We don't need to know everything, but we definitely want to know more.
Somewhere along the way, we lose our interest in and enjoyment of "Why." I’ve caught myself more than a few times getting so consumed by my daily checklist or the negative energy of the life swirl around me that I forget to think about why the list or life situations exist in the first place and how they benefit me. This makes me sad.
To wonder is to be alive with possibilities. It means we're thinking about life and celebrating our role in it. When I know more about something, I am inspired to appreciate the world as I know it in a new way.
Simon Sinek started a movement in business about this very idea. His philosophy in a nutshell is that when we start with “Why” we can inspire others and allow ourselves to be inspired by them. This isn’t just a business message. Imagine the possibilities in a world where we each reconnect with our own “Why” regularly.
"Why" can be both the easiest and hardest question to ask. At its broadest, it's a question for the universe. “Why am I here?” “Why is there so much misunderstanding and anger in the world?” At its simplest, it's a question that can be the foundation for living in the present, much the same as a child does. It says, “I have a need to know more now.” I may not need this information later, but I need it in order to be in this moment now.
We don’t always get answers to our “Why” questions. I think that’s okay. For me, the power of “Why” is that I get to ask the question. That I give myself permission to wonder. And, we all need to wonder a little bit more.
I've recently had a chance to get back in touch with my own sense of wonder. Like many people, I'd become jaded by the realities and repetition of daily living. Those realities didn’t go away, but I did change how I respond to them. I just got tired of the negative energy I was feeling because my sense of wonder was gone.
How did I do it? I resolved to notice one experience per day that filled me with inspiration. This has been harder than it sounds, but it’s been worth it.
- I went to see a holiday lights display at the zoo near my home. The sight of over one million lights on a crisp winter evening surrounded by the laughter of children is definitely inspiring.
- I went to an exhibit featuring hundreds of thousands of flowers at the art museum. Immersing myself in the imagination of someone else’s creativity was such a gift.
- My husband installed a bird feeder outside my office window and I now have chickadees, woodpeckers, tufted titmice and numerous finches happily chirping away as they feast on sunflower oilers and suet.
- I visited my local library and picked up some books I wanted to read. While I was there, I witnessed adults and kids sharing the wonder of stories together.
- I was able to give a glowing reference on behalf of a former colleague.
- A colleague of mine came up with an incredibly creative solution to a communications challenge we faced.
- I substituted missing ingredients in a recipe and came up with something unexpected and delicious.
Dealing with life doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate inspiration in daily living. Why? Because inspiration always shows up when we let ourselves wonder.
My next challenge . . . to help restore that sense of wonder in those around me. We all need a little more "why."