“I’m prepared to be amazed.”

by Elizabeth deGraw Renna

I’m not taking it for granted, part II

This phrase, “I’m prepared to be amazed”, which I first heard from a co-worker trained in the field of mental health, who first heard it from a college professor, has really gotten me thinking lately. It is a mind-opening twist for me of the standard phrase, “Prepare to be amazed!” If I say, “I’m prepared to be amazed”, I am making a bold statement about my expectations from some segment of my life, depending on the context in which I say it. This phrase is all about positive expectations and optimism. I really appreciate what it implies. But I’ve realized that I only carry this attitude naturally in certain areas of my life.

There are a lot of things that cause me to experience quiet awe and amazement. When it comes to taking quiet time for myself, pausing to just BE for awhile, I am always prepared to be amazed in some way. Sometimes I feel very consciously prepared. I know from experience that pausing to sit in nature or with a view of nature through a window will usually result in noticing something that will give me a feeling of wonder, awe, amazement, marvel, surprise or simply quiet pleasure. It’s usually a quiet moment, a quiet – and private – experience.  I do sometimes wonder what other people would think if they heard me talking about it and describing such a moment. I don’t talk about my moments of pausing or the experiences of quiet amazement that can emerge because I don’t think most people would understand. But I crave these moments and so I will continue to plan for conscious pausing and I will be very consciously prepared to be amazed.

Sometimes think I am more unconsciously prepared to be amazed when I take a quiet moment. At least I think that’s a true statement. What do I mean? Maybe it’s that I’m not as consciously aware of looking for the beautiful, the amazing, the marvelous. I just want to pause and breathe and BE and I’m not seeking anything beyond that. Then if something awe-inspiring does happen, it’s more of a surprise and comes with a different kind of pleasure.

It has somehow become a natural inner reflex for me to feel prepared, ready, set to be amazed in some way, whether large or small, when I sit quietly in nature and interact with what I observe around me. What doesn’t come naturally, I’m realizing, is having that same optimistic, positively expectant attitude about my interactions with people. It’s not that I have a generally pessimistic attitude or negative expectations. It’s the realization that my mind and brain don’t automatically expect to be amazed during my daily interactions with other people. Why not, I wonder?

I think I regularly appreciate other people and the things they do or say. I love talking with other people and expressing my appreciation, either indirectly by being a good listener and really acknowledging them or more directly sometimes by talking about what I notice.

But interactions with other humans can be fraught with emotions, tensions, and other messy stuff. It’s too easy to forget to look for and be prepared for the strengths of a person, the delightful qualities they possess or that exist in a particular situation. And too often, it seems, I’m busy, in a rush, with an active mental agenda of “to do’s” propelling me forward – the opposite of pausing and just “being”. But I’d like to try to become more consciously prepared to be amazed, in the most pleasant sense possible when it comes to people. And doing so will help me not take things for granted quite so readily. I think this approach is going to take some practice!