Wonder. Explore. Discover. Accept. Smile.

It’s unfortunate that our minds are so overwhelmed with the chaos of our days, a chaos that we unwittingly invited. We’re such an adaptive species that busy became the norm, then very busy, and finally…disfunctionally busy.

We often find ourselves feeling stuck, daydreaming, or unconsciously wondering when the better days will come. We’re wondering about something else, something better. At times, we’re wondering about almost anything other than where we are, when we are.

We’ve allowed our lives and our daily schedules to become inundated, not with business, but with busyness. We’ve come to a point of such dysfunction that we actually no long think.

Contemplate that for a moment. We no longer actually think. Thinking just happens, and it happens incessantly.

“Hey Wait! Of course we think!”

OK, we can agree that there’s definitely a lot of noise going on up there, but are we actually in control of it? Are we in control of any of it? Sure, in a crisis, we’re focused and attentive. We can solve problems. In fact, we often solve puzzles and riddles for fun! It’s calming to draw or color, to do crosswords or build puzzles. But why? Why is struggling through the a 1,000 piece puzzle so relaxing? It makes us focus! It makes us think! It’s the times when we’re not focused that our minds completely run away from us, and that isn’t good.

There are tools and strategies, both new and old, designed to calm our obsessing minds; to encourage us to be present. We can meditate, do yoga, even rigorous exercise can wipe away the noise which creates space for peace. We can create healthy habits of using our minds to think for us rather than continuing to allow our minds to use us. The cold hard truth is that we don’t.

We have become masters of efficiency instead of effectiveness. We have calendars, alarms, and notifications telling us where to be and when. We no longer watch whats on TV. We watch what we recorded on the DVR because we’re too busy to watch when the shows air. Then, with the expertise of a surgeon, and a death grip on our remote, we fast forward through the commercials, even skipping over the “boring” parts. It’s almost like a race to the end. “I really just want to see who go voted off anyway.” We binge watch. We buy take-out or fast-food, or even faster still, we microwave our dinners at home. Sadly though, through all of our recently adopted abilities to multitask and execute our schedules, we still, somehow, can’t find a way to get to sleep on time. Then, once we’re finally in bed, we’re so wound up from the pace of the day and the stress of the days to come that we can’t get to sleep ‘’cuz, “I just can’t stop thinking!” Then…DING! We’re up at dawn with a cup of coffee that’s big enough to keep the Tabernacle Choir awake for a week. We eat our breakfast in the car right after we finish our makeup, and all of this somehow comes together betwixt and between a flurry of tweets, posts, and text messages. Then somehow, with virtually no time left on the clock, we justify our chaotic lives either by claiming that it makes us happy, or more naively with the belief that it might might make us happy at some time in the future. In short, we all of this to be happy. In the end, we really just want to feel joy.

We daydream in vain. “I wonder what my life would be like if things were different.” Well, the simple act of wondering is like speaking in your mind where nobody’s there to listen, not even you. Or it’s like scurrying around, trapped in a cage, looking for answers; looking for an exit, only to learn that the cage is locked within your head.

But, if we take the power back; if we spend a few moments each day actually wondering, thinking on our own, using our minds as they were intended, we just might break that cycle. The conscious act of purposefully wondering, when the process is unencumbered by fear, it naturally leads us to only one place; a place of joy.

“How so?” I thought you’d never ask.

Finding that moment, that peacefulness, that joy that really might be our end goal…it takes a journey. It’s not going to find you. You actually need to get up, get moving, and find it. Finding that happiness; that joy takes exploration. It takes some risk. We might have to face our fears. We might fail. We might lose our way. We might walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and we might get hurt. But we’ll be alive! “I wonder what’s around the next corner! I wonder what she’s going to say! I wonder why I’m so apathetic! I wonder if I could ever…” And that’s how it starts. Notice that those ‘wonder’ statement above aren’t actually even questions. They are statements! They describe your action. That action will bring life to your journey.

Wondering, that conscious curiosity, leads to to exploration; both self exploration and physical exploration Exploration. In turn, when it’s not stifled by fear, exploration leads to discovery. Discovery then leads to truths, which, when bravely faced, lead to our acceptance of such truths. That acceptance of what truly is, the now; THAT is enlightenment. Enlightenment is the most direct path to joy. In fact, it is the joy.

Of course there are a number of important emotional and physical pieces to the puzzle, but acceptance of the truth is right there at the top. In the words of Viktor Frankl from his 1946 book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” So hold onto that thought as you start your journey. If you’re doing it right, your journey will bring struggles. But those struggles don’t need to wear a grimace. They can just as easily bring a smile. So don’t fear these struggles. Embrace them. Dance with your fears..

We are often slowed, or even stopped, by our fears. “I wonder what it would be like to…”, “I wonder if I could…” “But if I quit my job…” and so on. Of course I don’t advocate carelessness, but perhaps fearlessness. Push yourself for yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. Perhaps nothing sums it up better than this simple quote by author Suzy Kassem ~ “Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

Joy. It’s such a little word, but it contains so much emotion. It’s something that I’m afraid we don’t feel very often anymore. But I’m sure you’ve felt it though. At least I hope you have. I bet you can think back to a time when you felt safe. You felt warm, loved, and excited. You had an almost overwhelming enthusiasm about the very moment you were in. And you smiled. It almost felt like the sun was shining…but it was shining from from you, not on you. Yeah. Remember that time when you smiled and you just couldn’t help it? That’s joy!

If you don’t remember what Joy feels like, or if even if you’ve never felt joy at all, it’s not too late. Now is the time. It’s time to go find it. Let yourself wonder. Make yourself wonder, without fear. Wonder is the first creation. It’s the first step. Wonder is creating what you want in your mind; that life that brings you joy. Don’t worry about the second creation; the physical creating. I it will come on its own if you just let yourself fearlessly wonder.

So, set down your phones, or better yet. Stack ’em all up. Set down the remote. I promise that your life won’t be better because you know what’s happening on a “reality” TV show. Set off on that adventure; that exploration. Choose your path. ​Exercise that God given human freedom. Find your joy. Create your joy. And don’t forget to enjoy the now; enjoy the journey you’re embarking on.

Wonder.
Explore.
Discover.
Accept.

Smile.