Everyday experiences become fresh and remarkable when viewed with childlike wonder.
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of an activity and had the odd feeling that you’ve lived that exact moment before? At the same time, you know it’s impossible. Perhaps you’re talking with someone you’ve never met before or visiting a place for the first time. And yet the feeling is undeniable.
In a moment of déjà vu, a new experience feels old. This seems so familiar, you think, but I’m sure this never happened before. Sixty to seventy percent of us have experienced déjà vu, and perhaps you are one of them.1
I’ve reversed the words and named this chapter “Vu Déjà” because I want you to experience the opposite of déjà vu. I don’t want new experiences to feel old. Instead, I long for you to feel that something you do all the time — a regular, recurring experience you might be tempted to think of as mundane — is new and exciting. I want even your routine days to feel infused with a sense of uniqueness and excitement and untapped potential.
Wouldn’t It Be Amazing to Live This Way
We’re all charmed by the way kids approach life, aren’t we? Toddlers and young kids have a way of finding delight in even the most routine events. My three-year-old son Max can grab a stick in our backyard and instantly become a sword-wielding knight fending off villains. He can spot a bug on our living room carpet and envision it’s on an epic journey to a magical land.
My point is that kids find delight in a lot of stuff that you and I — serious adults that we are — consider real yawners. I realize that most grown-ups might feel hesitant to play knights in the yard and wouldn’t devote much time to staring at a bug. But I believe we would all be better off if we recaptured some of the feelings of delight, adventure, and possibility that children feel every single day.
It’s no wonder that Jesus emphasized the theme of living with childlike wonder several times, as when he told his serious-minded disciples,
Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. — Matthew 18:3
Paradise belongs to children and the childlike, the young and the young at heart.
To kick-start that kind of energizing shift, we need simply to view our routine, ordinary experiences with the fresh, new view that a child might have. The following three shifts might seem subtle at first but can be game changers as you seek to make the most of every minute of your day.
PRACTICE PEERING THROUGH THE EYES OF OTHERS
Every so often I engage in an exercise to remind myself that choosing to view things differently is valuable. Suppose I’m sitting at my desk, looking at my water bottle. I close one eye and then open it. Next, I close the other eye. I repeat this, watching for subtle differences in what I see. The bottle of water might be closer to my computer when observed through my left eye than my right.
Then I touch my nose with my finger and repeat the eye thing. The views of my hand from my left and right eyes are even more interesting than the shifting bottle of water. It’s pretty fascinating, the difference, when all I’ve done is shift my point of view three inches to the right or left.
Try it for yourself. What if you could see things from a position much greater in distance? Or even completely different in nature? What if you could see through the eyes of a different history, experience, or attitude than your own? Through the eyes of an entirely different person? The truth is that your life would look anything but familiar if you could step out of your skin and observe your routine day from the perspective of another person.
But while it’s one thing to understand this conceptually, it’s another thing to develop this skill and practice it on a daily basis.
Let’s try a few exercises that will help us become intentional about embracing a fresh perspective. I’m confident we’ll find that seeing things from the vantage point of someone else might be easier than we think!
- Stand on your front porch. Now open your front door and walk into your house and try to see it as a first-time visitor might. You might find yourself thinking things like
— Nice color scheme on the walls!
— Wow, is that pile of mail always so high?
— That overstuffed chair sure looks inviting.
— Those batteries, mismatched socks, and stack of papers sure look out of place on the piano.
- Think about how a task you’re doing right now might be perceived by a child.
- Consider what life might be like for a person you pass on the street.
- What would the barista at your regular coffee shop or the delivery person at your office say to you if they felt free to speak honestly?
- Take a quantum leap for a moment and imagine a scenario in which everything changed tomorrow and you suddenly found yourself living the life of someone else. What would you cherish most about your last day in your current life?
Do these things seem silly? Thinking outside the box, any box, is a great way to train your brain to look at your everyday experiences with fresh eyes and a new outlook.
When it comes to a renewed sense of wonder, appreciation changes everything. You may have come across the thought-provoking question, “What if tomorrow the only things in your life were the things you expressed gratitude for today?”
A woman who went through a season of grief and depression told me that thanking God aloud for the things she wanted to feel grateful for (even if her emotions were locked in the numb or sad position when she started) sparked new life in her spirit and emotions every time.
Every. Single. Time.
She said she would start out speaking with barely enough energy and motivation to mouth the words. About thirty seconds in, she would feel a shift in her spirit. Within a few minutes, joy and hope would be bubbling in her spirit.
Are you thirty seconds away from the shift you need? From going from numb, sad, bored, or resigned to feeling the bubbling of true joy and hope? Practice appreciation. Out loud. Express gratitude to God for his blessings in your life. Say thank you to the people around you. Express appreciation to yourself for the things you do right or well. Appreciate life.
Appreciate every minute you’re given.
Be that person who loves every minute they’ve been given because they appreciate all they’ve been given. (Start this process now.)
PRACTICE THE PRESENCE OF GOD
You can’t spend time basking in the presence of God without experiencing a shift in your perspective from the material to the eternal. When you draw near to Him, you see things in a new light. His light. And it changes everything.
That thing you do every day? The mundane? The routine? The stuff that makes you yawn? That habit of yours of killing time until something seemingly more interesting happens?
Boredom? Resignation? Letting things slide? That feeling of being okay with unharnessed potential?
When you spend time with Jesus, those things are transformed into something else entirely. Purpose. Passion. Vision. Excitement. Calling. Inner peace. Intimacy. Longing for more. The empowering realization that you were created for more. That you’re being equipped for more.
And everything old becomes new. Including you.
You can experience God’s presence in prayer, but that’s not the only activity that enhances your awareness of Him. Take a walk in nature and thank Him for all that He’s created. Sing songs to Him. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and listen for Him. Invite His presence into the room where you are. Chat informally with Him as you are commuting, doing chores, or taking a walk. Turn down the lights and dance with Him. Start to include Him in your every moment, and you will find those moments taking on supernatural significance.
Even if you’re tempted to think of your days as the same ol’ thing day in and day out, the truth is that every minute is new. It’s unlived, unrehearsed, and unexplored.
All you need is the courage and the determination to see it. Fill your days with the childlike wonder to view the world around you as a marvel and a miracle.
- Jordan Gaines Lewis, “Why Do Some People Get Déjà Vu More Often than Others?” Psychology Today, October 13, 2015, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-babble/201510/why-do-some-people-get-d-j-vu-more-often-others.
Excerpted with permission from The Power of 1440 by Tim Timberlake, copyright Tim Timberlake.
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Maybe you’re thirty seconds away from an entirely new day. Do you want joy to bubble up in your spirit? How about hope? Start to look at things in a new way! Thank God for every little thing! See what happens! ~ Devotionals Daily