Part of savoring life entails the capacity to experience “wow.” Wow is when you feel wonder or awe. You might experience this on special occasions, such as the birth of a child, when falling in love, or when traveling to new places.
More important is the capacity to experience the wow of ordinary life.
Humans have an amazing capacity to habituate to the miraculous. Think what a miracle it is that you are reading these words. A sophisticated web of technology brought this blog to you. You, a mind-boggling complex piece of the Universe that is aware of Itself, are receiving a message from another bit of the Self-Aware Universe.
Every day we wake up to the mystery of self-aware existence. Do we appreciate this fact when we wake up? What a gift our lives are. If you stop and appreciate this for a moment, you realize your life is an amazing wow experience. How incredible is it that our brains synthesize input from sights, sounds, tastes, smells and touch sensations to create our rich 5-dimensional representation of Reality.
From this perspective, wow comes from the simple experience of sitting on a bench outside, breathing in the fresh air, hearing the many noises of nature, and seeing the trees and sky. The suchness of this moment is more than enough. Wow is then an experience of the marvelous abundance of the Now.
Many people who addict have a “wow deficit disorder.” Life feels boring, bland, empty, or uneasy. Their capacity to experience the bare joy of existence is blunted. People make the mistake of treating their “dis-ease” with the momentary pleasure of addiction. Because they cannot get high on life, they get high on alcohol, drugs, or addictive behaviors. This is a big mistake.
The problem is that, while addicting may induce a temporary wow, it not only does not last, it also blocks people from feeling wow without addicting. Addicting only strengthens the wow deficit. This is why people who addict never get to wow on their own.
If you are vulnerable to addiction and do not feel enough wow in your life, you must renounce addicting to get to wow. You need to instead cultivate authentic ways to experience wow without addicting.
How do you get to wow without addicting? There are many ways:
• First, it’s harder to feel wow if you are in pain. You need to take very good care of yourself to minimize distress. Nurture yourself. Commit to a life of love and integrity. You have to feel good to feel good.
• Second, cultivate wow by practicing savoring life. Have fun and play. Practice an art or hobby. Spend time appreciating art. Spend time in nature. Listen deeply to the people around you. Take them in and appreciate their sacred nature. Laugh.
• Cultivate wow through the practice of presence. Meditate and practice mindfulness. Schedule just 5 minutes morning and night to meditate to begin. Being completely present to this timeless moment brings on wow. When you get out of your thinking head and experience Reality directly, you come into the exquisite freshness of the Now.
Wow doesn’t happen overnight. Nor does it just happen without your intentional, dedicated, persistent, gentle effort. It takes time and persistent practice to develop new habits such as playing every day. Brain building through the practice of presence is like bodybuilding. It takes months, even years, to change the brain. This is why a daily practice—even if it is for just 5 minutes a day—is so important for developing the capacity to feel wow.
If you are addicting, renounce addicting (with whatever help you need to do so) and commit yourself to the above wow-generating practices. With patience and perseverance, you will slowly get to more and more wow.
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