Wonder, dopamine and discovery…

WONDER 1. a feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable or unfamiliar.


So often today, with the ‘busyness’ of our lives, it is easy to overlook the wonder to be found around us. It can be located in the simplest of places, both indoors and outside and often creeps up on you unexpectedly. When experienced, it is coupled with a rush of happiness and a quick release of Dopamine, which naturally compounds feelings of satisfaction, reward and pleasure. So I guess you could argue that seeking out such moments is something we should regularly build into our good-health armoury.

During the 15 years I’ve been writing about keeping kids connected to nature and the outdoors, I’ve asked every child and parent I’ve met the same question. I think it would be close to 500 people now.

Name the one time in your life when you’ve been filled with a total sense of wonder.”


Interestingly, around 98% of respondents have said it was a moment spent outside. From climbing to the top of a tree for the first time, exploring the bush, canoeing down a creek, finding a discarded bird’s nest, watching the sun or moon set or rise, listening to birdsong, catching their first wave in the ocean, that delightful moment when a butterfly or ladybird unexpectedly alighted on their body, smelling the earth after a shower of rain (petrichor), feeling empowered when the training wheels came off their bike, catching their first fish or yabby, building a fort or cubby, through to planting a seedling and watching it grow. Generally, most respondents were by themselves, or at least felt they were (with young children, Mum was most likely keeping watch from a distance).


Very few speak of traditional milestones such as getting their driver’s licence, graduating from school or university, their first job, buying their first home, losing their virginity or becoming a parent. Over and over, people speak of moments of connection with nature. They are always small things, little events; but people are deeply touched by them. No one has yet mentioned technology.

SF Outdoors 44

So why not try and find a little time each day, with your children, to pursue a healthy dose of wonder?

For more tips, advice and ideas on how to find wonder in all you do, look out for my book “Caro & Co ~ Helping Kids find Wonder in the Everyday”,  published by Sally Milner Publishing. Available from 01 December at all good bookstores and online.


When was the last time you were filled with wonder?

Until next time…


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