Where do I start? I thought I should begin in a very good place and let you know of some of my own magical moments; listening to loud classical music in a storm and watching the rain lash at the window, shooting stars, sunsets and the very, very occasional sunrise! Dolphins following your boat, seals, whales and all the creatures of the deep, the soft purr of a sleepy cat on my lap, an afternoon under a blanket with the most incredible awe-inspiring book or film, the way someone smiles at you that makes you catch your breath, a touch that sends goosebumps all over, catching a really good wave that nicely deposits you back on the beach, a huge intense belly laugh that you can’t stop, knowing looks, discovering a new place, a painting that just draws you in and transports you somewhere magical, the smell of a fully bodied rose, that sip of tea after something has happened, drives at night through European cities, the first snow of the year…I could go on and on. As you can see I’m an utterly hopeless romantic who seeks out beautiful and profound moments.
But, so what you might say, why on earth do these moments matter? Having an awe-inspiring moment can help you to feel a greater connection to the world and those around you. Importantly it can make you want to be a part of the universe and these seemingly insignificant moments can have a substantial effect on our wellbeing.
When I am feeling down in the dumps, I often start to feel a little numb or want to cocoon myself away from the world. Experiencing a magical moment that is unexpected can really make all the difference. For me that is often a connection to nature. When I can force myself outside, there is a treasure trove to explore and as I plod on not really noticing anything at first, it is incredible, when you just catch the smell of honeysuckle in a hedgerow, or the neighbour’s cat decides to come over and say hello. It can really, really make all the difference.
For a moment, you are absorbed in something that isn’t your thoughts! Worries and stresses and feeling down in the dumps are forgotten as you wonder about something outside of your train of thought. A moment that is actually happening right there right now can help you feel fully present. The positive feelings can remain, I often feel grateful for being in the right place at the right time and, as we know, gratitude is great for our mental health.
If you feel that magical connection to the world with someone else it can be incredibly special and help you to forge or deepen friendships. I remember watching the northern lights with my mum and when we’d finally stopped saying ‘wow,’ over and over again, there was a lovely moment when we realised that this would be a forever connection and beautiful memory.
Experiences like the northern lights can be so otherworldly and out of the ordinary that it helps us to understand our place in this vast expansive world and that helps us with perspective.
Suddenly we aren’t the most important thing in the universe (hard to believe, I know) and that can be very beneficial to good mental health.
It has even been suggested that the positive emotions that arise during and after a magical moment can help our immune systems and our heart health. They are also moments to be stored up in your memory bank at moments of sadness or when the world isn’t being particularly cooperative.
Recently I’ve printed a book full of photos, that remind me of special moments. The photo’s themselves are rarely of the moment (too busy enjoying it or caught without a camera) but after or before with little notes about what was fantastic. One that sticks in mind, is a photo of us grinning in the car, but the poignant note reads, ‘we just saw a whale!’ I read it when I’m ill or scared or tired for a boost and a reminder that good things exist and how very lucky I actually am. In this way, it helps to build resilience and mental fortitude.
So, can you actively plan and seek out magical moments?
The romantic in me says no, spontaneity matters, is that you Heathcliff! But that is of course rose-tinted rubbish. Sometimes we need to get ourselves out into the world, to be able to catch an awe-inspiring moment. Although not guaranteed, you certainly won’t see a dolphin from your sofa and you can’t see a sunset if your head is buried under a duvet.
Whilst it might feel really difficult if you are feeling down to embrace nature or your morning cuppa, if we can train ourselves to be more present, these simple things can provide memorable moments. Sometimes we just need to look up from our screens or notice the familiar person we see every day and relish in our good fortune! We can help ourselves to look differently. Some of this can be done by evoking the senses. I was so taken by this concept, you can read about it here:
Is music or art your thing? Book something right now. I’m often surprised how music can help me transcend the every day, even if that is listening to a busker on the street or a guitar player at your local. It doesn’t have to be the opera house or very expensive festival tickets, but you do have to be in the place it is happening.
How about helping others? Sometimes we really need a different perspective on the world. By helping those who need it we can begin to feel gratitude, hear different voices, understand the world better, connect and find real moments of joy. Sending a sweet treat to your neighbour or volunteering can do a whole lot of good in this world.
Whatever you find nourishes your soul, do more of it. Whoever you enjoy spending time with, do more of that (and animals absolutely count). Big or small, take time to smell the roses and or coffee and or earl grey tea (in my case).
Take five minutes this week to think of situations that may give you, your own magical moment. Happy exploring my friend.