It’s the season for wonder. And that got me wondering. How many of my loyal readers, clients, and friends are challenged by the holidays and not completely looking forward to, or even dreading, some of the upcoming events? Spending a lot of time with people we aren’t usually with can be difficult, especially when we’re related to them. We tend to walk into these situations prepared for the old battles and oft-repeated arguments. There’s where the stress of the holidays comes from. And there’s where injecting a little wonder can change everything.
Wonder: desire or be curious to know something
“How many times have I written that, I wonder?”
ponder: think about, meditate on, reflect on, muse on, puzzle over, speculate about,
conjecture: be curious about
“I wondered what was on her mind.”
I remember when I was four or five and the whole Christmas or Hanukkah season was one of wonder. It seemed like the rules no longer applied! Electricity zapped in the air. Huge rocking horses in the square in Morristown (biggest town near where I grew up in New Jersey) beckoned me. My Pop was under constant pressure to take me up there to sit astride one of those monsters and laugh till I almost fell off.
Every year, I wondered how it would feel. I wondered which relatives were going to visit. I wondered what Christmas Eve dinner would be like. I wondered what was behind that door my Pop kept closed until we were completely finished with breakfast. I wondered what the ratio of fun things to clothing would be under our Christmas tree. (I always got socks and underwear for Christmas…odd.)
Ever think about how much wondering you did as a child?
Wonder and fear
Curiosity is the underpinning of wonder. We want to know something we don’t already know. We want to foresee an outcome. In that way, it’s like fear, which also results because we want to foresee an outcome. But with fear, there is the additional pressure of expectation.
Expectation is a judgment. And judgment lives in the Knower/Judger. So when we fear something, we are making a judgment that some outcome is going to happen (based on our K/J set of rules).
When we judge what the outcome will be (from our K/J), it’s very difficult to expect anything else. And if that outcome is negative, or very negative, then we feel fear. Psychologists call it the fight, flight, or freeze reaction, a very natural and genetic response we have when things endanger us. In fact, we’re born with the reaction. But we’re not born with the knowledge of when, where, and how to use it. We learn that through training. So fear is a trained reaction. Very much a K/J feeling.
Wonder, on the other hand, is not founded on expectation. Wonder is fear minus the expectation. Think about it. When you wonder about something, any outcome is OK. You’re just plain curious. When you fear something, then you’re judging an outcome’s value (and the judgment is usually negative).
So as we head off into this wondrous season, let’s just set fear aside. You learned it. You can unlearn it.
How many of you are going to be getting cozy with family you don’t see every day? Are you full of wonder? Or are you judging the outcome with fear? Why not pick wonder? You don’t have to predict that argument with your sister…you really don’t. Why not just wonder how her life has been since this time last year and listen to her tell her story?
Some of you might be cooking for critical family members. That’s a big one for several friends of mine. If you judge that it’s going to be a challenge, you’re probably right. Let the expectation go, and push your fear back with wonder.
This season is made for children. Be one again. Wonder is so much more fun than fear!