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By Claudette Rowley

If you decided to be amazed, what would you see? Amazement, like any other state of mind, results primarily from our perspective. A cleaned up perspective, that is, one that's not clogged with negativity, self-doubt and limited thinking.

What is amazement? It's the capacity to see the positive, the beautiful and the previously unseen in both the everyday and in the spectacular. Amazement requires stepping outside of ourselves, observing who and what surrounds us, and practicing the art of gratitude.

In my experience, gratitude and amazement are kissing cousins whose relationship is symbiotic - one influences the other. Marcel Proust described this well when he said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."

If you looked through the lens of amazement, what would you see? How would you define it for yourself?

When I discuss amazement with people in life, they sometimes reflect back to me that they simply don't have time to be amazed. They are too busy, too tired and too stressed. But here's the great thing about amazement: it's free, takes no time, and is a fantastic stress reliever. So what blocks our ability to be amazed?

  • The usual cadre of negativity: judgment, self-doubt and limited thinking. These three limit our vision drastically and call us to focus on what's not going well, how afraid we are, and how we or other people should have done things differently or better.

  • Following a rigid set of rules about how we are supposed to be. Many of us carry around a mental checklist of "rules," regulations and must dos that ratchet our stress levels up to intolerable levels. Hard to be amazed with that monkey on your back, isn't it?

  • Worrying, venting or complaining without taking action. Now I can worry, vent and complain with the best of them, and sometimes venting even puts in me in a more positive frame of mind. This only works if I choose to act to improve a situation. Endless worrying, venting or complaining sends you down a circular thought path that leads to nowhere.

Even if you understand these amazement-blockers, it can still be challenging to learn how to tap into the state of amazement on a regular basis. To raise your amazement quotient, consider these tips:

  • Cultivate the art of observation. Observe the curve a child's cheek, the beauty of flower and the eyes of someone you enjoy being around.

  • Watch for something good to happen. Notice the "little things": did someone smile at you today, make your life easier in some way, or help you solve a nagging problem?

  • Let yourself feel the full emotional range. Amazement is a heightened sense of joy. What's your capacity for joy? Do you allow yourself joyful moments?

  • Shift your perspective. If your usual take on a situation is negative, what would change if you looked through a positive lens?

Recognize that amazement is a choice. You can choose to be amazed or not, it's up to you. Once in a great while, most of us set eyes on a sight that is so compelling, so completely life changing that it takes our breath away. But most of life isn't like that, so it's up to us to make the choice to notice what amazes us on a daily basis. To be amazed or not to be amazed? That is the question.

Copyright © 2008 Claudette Rowley
Claudette Rowley, coach and author, helps professionals identify and pursue their true purpose and calling in life. Learn more at Claudette

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