Do you worry about the small stuff? Are you losing interest in life, even as you anxiously cling to it?
Too often, people try to escape from reality. However, Robert Greene argues, reality is exactly what we should connect with. In The Daily Laws, he provides suggestions for appreciating everything that the real world offers us when we stop to notice it.
Read on to learn how reconnecting with your sense of awe and wonder might be exactly what you need to find joy and excitement in life.
The Awe and Wonder of Reality
According to Greene, when you recognize and appreciate how amazing life is, you gain a focused and rational outlook on the world. In the modern world, distractions are everywhere, and it’s easy to worry about things that don’t really matter. Sometimes, eliminating these distractions is as simple as reminding yourself of the awe and wonder that exist in your present reality.
(Shortform note: In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle explains why it’s easy to lose ourselves in worry over pointless issues: We all have a voice inside our heads that’s constantly analyzing and commenting on our lives and the world around us. This voice, which Tolle refers to as the ego, prevents us from seeing the world as it is and causes us to dwell on the past and the future. To reground yourself in the present reality, Tolle says you can practice focusing all of your attention on a mindless task, such as chopping carrots or folding your clothes.)
First, reconnect with your childhood sense of awe and wonder. The world is full of wonders, such as nature or art. When we were children, we noticed this because we were small and vulnerable. As adults, we become preoccupied with distractions and responsibilities like social media and work deadlines. To reconnect with your sense of wonder, Greene recommends becoming an explorer: Visit childhood places, travel to natural places without technology, and study different cultures. When you reopen your eyes to the grand scale of life, you’ll renew your interest in life and experience more joy.
(Shortform note: Psychologists agree with Greene on the power of awe and wonder, adding that, when you embrace awe, you can view the world more positively. They provide additional suggestions on how to pursue awe: Tune into your senses, take a break from technology, and spend time in nature. While seeking awe can help you reconnect with reality, research has shown that experiencing awe has additional benefits, such as reducing stress, encouraging generosity, and improving your overall well-being.)
Second, Greene argues that, by becoming more aware of our mortality, we can live a life that is richer and more focused. He explains that many societies ignore the idea of death. This only makes us more anxious, however, as we’re left with a subconscious sense of time slipping away yet lose ourselves in daily distractions. Instead, Greene writes that you should accept that human life is impermanent. This awareness helps you focus on the present reality and what’s most important to you, allowing you to better appreciate your life, love the people around you, and feel motivated to achieve your life’s purpose.
(Shortform note: Reflecting on your mortality is a core element of Stoicism. In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius says you should approach everything in your life with the awareness of death: Carry out every task as though it’s the last you’ll ever do. By approaching everything with this perspective, you’ll be more appreciative, focused, and deliberate in your actions than if you take it for granted. Additionally, being aware of your mortality gives you a sense of urgency that helps clarify what matters to you and allows you to live a focused and fulfilling life.)
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Daily Laws summary:
- Why our beliefs tend to leave us feeling unhappy and unfulfilled
- How to attune yourself to the reality of how the world really works
- How to manage your emotions and develop rationality