I recently watched an interview with Katherine Hepburn by Dick Cavett from 1973. I'm a fan of the actress and enjoy her films, particularly those with Spencer Tracy. (Adam's Rib is the best of their movies, but my absolute favorite is Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.)
While Hepburn regaled Cavett with stories, she declared how remarkable she finds life to be several times. Her exact words were, "Life is just so thrilling." Of course, she said it with her Hepburn delivery—voice and head warbly, fist raised, and her eyes shining.
Hepburn convinced me that I want to be a thrill-seeker. But, we don't need to climb mountains or paraglide off cliffs to experience awe. We each can marvel at the exceptional bits of our existence if we pay attention.
If you feel like a sleepwalker in your life, here we explore how to ignite your curiosity and spot what is thrilling right before you.
“You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.”
― Andy Warhol
HOW ABOUT SOME AWE, PLEASE
I sense that Hepburn came readymade to see life as thrilling. But you don't have to be famous to be the star of your own story and see what's fascinating in it. We all deserve to feel the rapture of the astonishing around us.
Here is a moment of awe I recently caught just before a storm in Des Moines, Iowa.
I love thinking of life as thrilling. But in these hyped-up times of adventurous influencers sharing their best moments on the internet, it can leave some of us wondering how to identify the exceptional.
It all comes to being inquisitive and pondering in quieter moments when we step out of ourselves. Then we are open to a sense of awe.
Have you ever experienced it? Maybe you've felt the frightening kind that comes during a massive storm like the derecho we had here in Iowa last summer. (Foolishly, I was standing on my glassed-in front porch watching it!) I remember recognizing my "spec-ness" in the colossal whirl of nature.
There are joyous moments of awe, too. Maybe you've realized the transcendence during a shared group activity such as a concert or sporting event. And I've been struct by awe at gatherings such as marches and volunteer occasions, too.
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” John Milton
For my husband, awe comes from art – from seeing art breakthroughs with his students or observing a favorite painting for the first time in a museum.
TIPS FOR EXPERIENCING MOMENTS OF AWE
Awe comes when we focus less on ourselves and see our place as part of something bigger. Frequent recognition of the spectacle in the "ordinary" improves our sense of wellbeing and enriches our relationships with others.
In the shared understanding of awe, we forge communities. And it is that wonderment that is the bridge to feeling thrilled by grandeur.
“Practice radical humility. Take no credit for your talents, intellectual abilities, aptitudes, or proficiencies. Be in a state of awe and bewilderment.” Wayne Dyer
Per NBC News Now, "The effects of feeling small, feeling humbled, and the desire to connect with others, according to evolutionary scientists, is thought to be part of the reason over the course of human history mankind has formed groups, societies, and lived collectively.
We've mentioned several ways to spot the wonder in your life. Here are a few more:
- Connect with Nature: Hippocrates sums up the power of nature to heal: "Nature itself is the best physician." It's no wonder nature is a curative influence, given we are each made of the molecules of nature around us. We are earthling astronauts, and our mother ship is earth.
- Connect with yourself: Allow yourself to be silent and take the time to absorb the quiet of moments just with you. Breathe slowly, walk slowly, chew slowly. Be still slowly.
- Connect with others: Practice purposeful listening with someone you know or with someone new. We look to others to find how we are similar and make an effort to explore and recognize how each of us is unique.
If you practice exploration and note moments of awe, you will find that your day-to-day experience is more thrilling. Keep a journal of when you recognize awe and strive to cultivate those experiences more often. Consider yourself an adventurer, and you will find adventure.