"Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it."
— Mary Oliver
This wonderful quote is my signature on my emails, and it's been surprising how many people have written me back just to comment on it. It really strikes a chord with people. It certainly did for me.
How many of us live our lives is nothing close to the way Mary Oliver advises. In actuality, it's more like: Go into something with exceedingly high expectations. Be disappointed. Complain about it.
That's sad, isn't it? When we place so many expectations on things (including ourselves), we're never going to be anything but disappointed. That's no life I want to live, and I realized this about a year ago, when I would overplan everything I did, and when things didn't turn out the way I had hoped and expected them to, I whined. For such a supposed "happy" person, I sure spent a lot of time unhappy and complaining.
Things changed when I allowed myself to just show up. I didn't put pressure on myself or anyone else to act a certain way, or do a certain thing. Just by showing up and letting myself live in that particular moment, I was able to notice little things that made me unexplicably happy. And wouldn't you know? I started finding that the most unplanned moments turned out to be the most astonishing?
That's the secret to being astonished. You have to let yourself be.