How I Let Wonder, Beauty, Sweetness, and Love into My Heart and How I Broke it Open

(photo from Unsplash)

One day I was seeing my too-pretty-for-her-own-good acupuncturist and talking (for the millionth time) about how truly messed up the world is. I didn’t have to provide proof. There is plenty. I don’t have to tell you. I was saying that my particular life was sweet and safe and fulfilling but that I couldn’t really feel it. All that goodness and, yet, I was kind of miserable. Something was in the way or stuck or closed up. But what? What? Was it hormones? Empathy? Guilt? Depression? Sugar? Ancestors’ legacies haunting me? Did I need more therapy? Was I an alien visitor from another planet where there was only peace, love, and understanding?

So, my too-pretty acupuncturist smiled and said something about belief. Was I carrying a deep belief that Planet Earth was a terrifying place? And, if so, could there be a way I might examine that belief and see if I could open to other possibilities? Now, you can imagine, in November 2023, we might easily make a strong case for terrifying. And yet, my little world was indeed peaceful. And, truth be told, I was probably not helping anyone living in less peaceful circumstances by missing out on my own sweet, safe, and fulfilling life. And, I suspected I did not need to worry that if I believed in the existence of a beautiful world full of wonder, I would suddenly stop voting , listening to NPR, seeking justice for all, and writing/blogging.

What, then, did I do? Well, I got out my trusty journal and wrote a story! I write these stories when I’m needing to get unstuck, or understand something, or heal and grow/expand. Here it is:

The Woman Who Didn’t See What Was Right in Front of Her

Once upon a time there was a woman who thought Planet Earth was a terrifying place. She always felt an undercurrent of pending disaster. But disaster never came. At least, not to her house. But she felt obligated to stay on guard, just in case.

Interestingly, being on guard all the time was exhausting. And it meant she never had time to experience anything else. But let’s face it. There was a whole lot of terribleness going on. All around the world. Fighting. Killing. Hate. For starters. Not to mention fires, floods, hunger, and climate crises. Things were not looking great. 

Every day, every night, the woman was so overwhelmed by pending disaster that she couldn’t see the goodness all around her.  She couldn’t experience the beauty. The wind in the trees. The generosity. Strangely enough, she couldn’t even feel the wonder of her accomplishments. The appreciation from her clients. The love notes from Brazil. The fan mail from Spain. Believe it or not, she didn’t even appreciate her pain-free body, her still-plentiful hair, the capacity of her heart to continue to pump and her eyes, to continue to see.     

It occurred to her that this had to change. She couldn’t live this way. And it seemed that it had to start with believing that Planet Earth was not always so terrifying. That the world was also full of wonder, of beauty, of sweetness, of love. She had to see below the surface of things and tune into the subtle, quiet, yet powerful life energies, invisible and visible realities all around, everywhere.  She had to remember what she already knew and what was even actually playing out in her very life!   

That was the irony of it all. Her daily life was the proof of the wonder, the beauty, the sweetness, the love. Her very life, every day, every minute was showing her the truth of what was possible. What already existed. In spite of her fear, she was shown every darn day how the world was magical and precious. 

Oh. Well. When you put it that way. She gulped, paused, and in that moment realized a few things. One. She no longer had to believe that Planet Earth was hostile, that she had made a mistake coming to this planet, and that she ought to tear up the contract, and return home pronto. Two. She did not have to hold onto the fear for her ancestors’ benefit. They were fine with her good life and were healed by it. Three. Her inner child was more than ready to dance, sing, and laugh with wild abandon. Four. It was totally appropriate that she had a safe, sweet life with beautiful woodwork, a head full of astonishing hair, dear friends, and adoring fans. 

And, believe it or not, in that moment, she happened upon, of all things, Jeff Goldblum on Stephen Colbert on Instagram quoting George Bernard Shaw:

“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible
before handing it on to future generations.”

And so, she realized that when she let wonder, beauty, sweetness, and love into her heart, she broke it open! She could “rejoice in life for its own sake” and make her “splendid torch…burn as brightly as possible…” And so she did.


To my dearest bloggEEs: If you want to know more about this journaling technique, my handy dandy new book has more examples. (Just thought I’d slip that in) Let us know about how you find the world to be magical and precious, even in these times. And I can’t thank you enough for your thoughtful comments and for your presence here. Love and appreciation to all you forces of nature.

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

14 responses to “How I Let Wonder, Beauty, Sweetness, and Love into My Heart and How I Broke it Open”

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  1. itssue42 Avatar

    Hah!! 😀 As has been observed by many, your posts tend to coincide amazingly with when we need them most! The universe is so brimming with serendipity.
    Yes, I have finally, really, truly, like “hit over the head with a 2 by 4”, realized that my life is Totally driven by Fear. I thought I was so positive, always working hard to accomplish Everything and always failing of course etc etc. You all know how it goes. Then I woke up recently, triggered by a literal physical adrenaline/stress/post-op Crash lasting days, and realize like Everything I do is actually rooted in Fear. Of not being good enough, not smart enough, not talented enough, etc etc. Borrrrring 😀
    And FLIP. When you celebrate the reality of yourself and your world and Stop demanding impossibilities of yourself a hundred times a day (which is beyond exhausting), then the world is truly quite wonderful and you’re able to accomplish a lot more. So obvious, and yet so hard for this RFM to grasp the truth right in front of me all these years. ZOWIE
    Your story is the essence of successful Being.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Wow! Zowie right back atcha, Sue! 💚

  2. Creative Ideas for Booknerds and Sensitive Outliers Wandering, Wondering, and Worrying Through the Holiday Season – YOUR RAINFOREST MIND

    […] here for you! I’m working on developing cheer, in general, as you may have noticed in my last blog post. I am detecting progress. But I have a ways to […]

  3. Alia Avatar

    I wasn’t going to reply to this one, but then someone posted this prayer elsewhere, and the opening seemed to directly address this question. I don’t do woo, but I do poetry:

    O Infinite Love, help me face this day.
    My heart weeps with fear of violence, of invisibility, of hatred.
    Open me to beauty and wholeness, to love and laughter.
    I am enough. We are enough.
    I live in the sacred in-between. I embody the connectivity and allness of the Infinite. May I remember that I am inherently sacred by my existence.

    The earth is filled with magnificent diversity of which I am a small piece. May I remember I am a part of the spectacular beauty of a diverse world dependent on that diversity—my existence—for its survival.

    When I feel lost, may I hold to the earth and to community.
    When I feel invisible, may I have the strength to shout joyous gratitude from the rooftops for all who have seen me.
    When violence is before me, I ask for grace through the next moment.
    When I feel connected, may I share my love with those around me.
    When I feel seen, may I see others in need.
    When I am secure, may I rise up for the security of others.

    O Infinite Love, I sit within you and shine you out to the world that we may know grace even when we do not live up to our most grounded values. We are life and we are lives worth living and my life is valuable as all lives are valuable.

    O Infinite Love, thank you for the gift of the transcendent both, all, And, Infinite, liminal, glue, connectivity. May I rest in that transcendent space today and for all the days to come. Aho, amin, ashe.

    Rev. Sunshine Jeremiah Wolfe, Prayer for Transgender Day of Remembrance,

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh, yes. Thank you, Alia. 💚

  4. Marina Avatar

    What a lovely story, Paula, thank you! By the way, did you know that George Bernard Shaw was a eugenist and elitist, joining efforts with Sidney and Beatrice Webb, in the Fabian Society? This came as a surprise to me, but according to my readings, this is really the case. He might be a great playwright, but his life philosophy was not totally socialist, after all! Social reforms (contraception, for example) were not really altruistic, as we are made to believe. Have a look at Jonathan Freedland’s article in The Guardian, 1st May 2019!

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh, Marina, thanks for telling me. Ugh. I will look into that.

  5. cd1122 Avatar

    Dear Paula, how touching. I really apppreciate this in these particular times we are in, both your anecdote, creative story and the quote. I also want to be thoroughly used up when I die. The ‘smile’ wrinkles I already have on my face aren’t for nothing…and the tired eyes are a symbol of a lot of hard work and long days, but they represent stories.
    I love your spectacular post timing, as per usual. I just confirmed Step 1 in ‘the plan’ after work today, then found your post as some very heartwarming bedtime reading (before one of the books next to my bed). I will be documenting the history of the NGO where I did work in Peru through interviews, group circles and digging up photos, articles, etc. about the awesome work of the feminists and lovers of all of humanity who have been doing such meaningful grassroots work for 3 decades, people who are indeed forces of nature and have inspired and continue to inspire me and many to be forces of nature as well. You are also quite the force of nature, of course. I don’t know what we would all do without you. We definitely wouldn’t be connecting with our essence and our dreams nearly enough and would be busy pathologizing ourselves and struggling with what others say about us rather than tapping into our natural tendencies and putting them to good use for the betterment of community.
    Spending more time in nature far from screens to take in some of the many wonders that still do exist is my best recommendation for anyone struggling with the state of the world. And also, walking the dog(s) of your friends or colleagues or local animal shelter can be a good remedy for living in one’s head…there is nothing like a dog on a bonus walk for inspiration on living in the moment. 😉

    1. pprober Avatar

      Thank you for your recommendations, cd1122, and for your love. It occurred to me that calling a rainforest mind a force of nature is kind of a no-brainer! 😂

      1. cd1122 Avatar

        haha, yes, but also the George Bernard Shaw quote tied it all together to create some useful synergy, and if that energy can be used to help improve the world even in small ways, even better. Hugs from the east coast of Canada.

  6. Libby Avatar

    Wow, I can’t tell you how much I needed to read your beautiful words today. I really resonate with your experience and the feelings you describe are something I’ve been struggling with a great deal recently. I shall carry your wonderful, wise thoughts with me and try to let my heart soften into the sweetness of it all too. Thank you so much Paula ☀️

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh, I’m so glad, Libby. This post was a little bit more vulnerable than most so I appreciate hearing from you. Thank you.

      1. Peggy Costello Avatar
        Peggy Costello

        Oh dear Paula, I so relate to this blog! Thank you thank you for sharing your wisdom and heart!!!

        I can’t wait to dive in to your Rainforest journal as my 2024 loving act of self-care!

        Xo, Peggy C.💗

        1. pprober Avatar

          So good to see you here, Peggy! Thank you. I’ll be interested to hear how the journal helps!