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A Sense of Wonder

A Sense of WONDER

Research shows that older people who live with a sense of wonder live longer and richer lives. They look forward to events - even the little things - like the change of seasons, the next meal or a daily visit from a friend.

I think of my late mother, who lived to be 92 and was healthy most of her life. Even in the last year of her life, when I visited her in her assisted living apartment, very often when she awakened, while her coffee brewed, she would emerge from her bedroom into the light, southern facing living room, very often exclaiming, “That coffee smells so good!…And LOOK at the sunrise, those pink, whispy clouds and blue sky beyond. So beautiful!” Even if the sunrise looked the same and the coffee smelled the same, every day, she would repeat this refrain, each time with the same joy.

Did my aging mother’s sense of joy keep her healthy and alive all those years? Probably not by itself, but her optimism certainly helped to maximize the positive effects of her medicines, treatments, and underlying farm girl health. Until she was in the final days and could no longer communicate, her unmistakable smile was there.

Ok, so how do we find joy during these, uncertain, stressful times? There are ways, and we should all practice these every day. The late 1983 NCAA champion NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano (Jimmy V.), while dying of aggressive cancer, said in one of his last public appearances. “Everyone should do these three things every day for a happy life:

  1. Laugh. Don’t take yourself too seriously

  2. Think. Take alone time for meaningful thought (meditation, prayer)

  3. Find at least one thing in your day which moves you to tears and revel in it! ( Remember, we don’t cry only when things are happy or sad, we cry when they are poignant)”

A sense of wonder begins with gratitude and appreciation. Keep a journal where you document the simple things for which you are grateful, Write or meditate on that which you appreciate. Concentrate one the most important things in life : Family, friends, work, play. As appreciation for these simple things grows, so will your sense of joy and wonder.

Hanging onto that wonder every day for as long as you can…will keep you healthier and happier longer.

In health,

Dr. John Monaco

MONACO Wellness


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