Igniting Wonder with Mindfulness

On the cover of OuiSi, you'll find the words "build presence and ignite wonder." I want to share how we chose these hefty words for our box top, and how mindfulness can ignite wonder.

"With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment." - Thich Nhat Hanh

To navigate the world in a practical manner, we can't stop to marvel at everything we see and hear. We need to filter all that sensory information down to the essentials in order to function. When we do choose to spend time marveling, it's often a larger escape from daily life. We might head to nature for the weekend, or spend the afternoon at an art gallery. It is easy for weeks or months to pass, however, without making time for these escapes.

Two side-by-side, beautiful images. On left, a Swiss-mountain vista, and on the right, a close-up of crushed glass on the ground.

The wonders of nature and broken glass

 

Yet we remain surrounded by a feast of smaller, subtler marvels in every moment. The colors of crushed glass on the ground in sunlight. The rhythm of a subway car as it rolls into a station. The smell of coffee roasting as we wait in line. We have a choice to notice and appreciate these exquisite wonders in our everyday. This is mindfulness; to choose where we place our attention.

Of course, your to-do lists still matter. But punctuating your day with small bursts of presence and wonder can be nourishing, refreshing and centering. And, sometimes you need a nudge to be mindful like this. To help build a practice of noticing marvels, we made OuiSi.

 

A OuiSi photo card of two buildings, top half red and bottom half white. The card is sitting on a coffee table, and it matches the red table and white carpet.

Making the mundane marvelous

A mindful nudge

The pictures on OuiSi photo cards were taken with an attention towards small marvels. A torn blue tarp flapping in the wind. The light and shadow from an office window. A crushed pop can on the sidewalk. Each card is a reminder of something easily ignored, yet marvelous to look at.

The activities we included in OuiSi like "EyeSpy" and "Scavenger" are fun, creative hunts for these subtle wonders. They start with a photo card and an intention to find a visual connection (e.g. a similar pattern, color, etc.) in your world. They are simple to play and can be used anywhere, whether on the subway or at the doctor's office with your kids.

 

Two OuiSi photo cards at the beach. On left, a photo card of a flower looks like a seagull nearby. On right, a photo card with a metal spiral that looks like a spiraled shell nearby.

Being present to subtle wonders

 

On a recent trip down south to visit my parents, I took a handful of cards to the beach and used them to explore. I underestimate the value of this exercise nearly every time I try it. Yet each match I found was a subtle, head-clearing ping of wonder.

We'd love to see what marvels you find in your own world using OuiSi. Feel free to email us or post your findings to social media (tags below).

Thanks for reading,

Paul

P.S. Years ago my co-founder Kaz Brecher sent me a video made in 1977 called Powers of 10 by Eames, which captures our world at different magnifications, zooming far out and then in (from the cosmic to microscopic). It's a great reminder that the world is full of wonders at any scale and at any moment.

P.P.S. To keep up to date on blogs updates and new games for OuiSi, please subscribe to our newsletter below!

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