As I’m finishing up our 2016 photo album, I’ve been looking back over the past year and thinking about all that we did and saw. There were many life-changing events, but the things that make me smile the most are the things, large and small, that bring to mind the phrase, ‘wonder and awe.’ I still remember being in 8th grade, preparing for Confirmation, and learning about the Gift of the Spirits. Sr. Janet told us that the most important gift was wonder and awe, which she described as always seeing life through the eyes of a child, unjaded and full of amazement at all that God does, creates, and gives. Her words have always stuck with me, and I have been reminded of them many times throughout my life.
Over the past year, I was humbled as I knelt before the tomb of our Lord. I cried as I walked through the 9/11 Museum. I laughed at the antics of my girls while we were in Spain. All of these things brought me to a new understanding of whom I am and where I am in my life. But nothing makes me smile like the simple memories – Katie’s eyes as they lit up watching Aladdin’s magic carpet rise above the Broadway stage; the joy on the faces of my children and their friends when they summited a 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado; my mother’s exclamation of pure amazement when she looked through the kids’ Christmas-light 3-D glasses. These small things bring me great joy, and they exemplify the truth in the saying that money doesn’t buy happiness.
So many people spend their lives searching for more: more wealth, more stuff, more power, more friends, more time. You name it, everyone wants more of it. Morgan and I recently listened to a Ted Talk about happiness. It talked about the correlation between having more stuff and feeling less satisfaction. Having more doesn’t mean feeling more unless that feeling is that of being overwhelmed, burdened, disorganized, and dissatisfied. When will people, particularly in the Western World, realize that all we need to feel happy is to be content with what we already have? It’s not about keeping up with the neighbors. It’s about finding joy within yourself and radiating it out to others. It’s not what others give to you but what you give to them that will bring true satisfaction with what you have and who you are.
In 2017, I implore you to look past the stuff and see the simple joys that surround you every day. Laugh at the kids building a snowman in your yard or next door. Delight in the smell of the flowers in your garden this spring. Close your eyes and revel in the feel of the warm sun on your face. Breathe in the crisp, cool fall air. Don’t let a minute of the next year go by without noticing all of the amazing things in this world. Find your sense of wonder of awe, and cherish it. Never stop looking at life through the eyes of a child.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her most recent book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase; and her next novel, Island of Miracles, will be released in January of 2017.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.