Nele Vandersmissen — Create Your Own Magic: The Power of Awe, Wonder, Meaningful Conversations, Curiosity and More – #30

Elly Mac Profile Picture

by Ellie Goode

Listen: Spotify | Apple | All other platforms

Creating magic

Ever wondered how to add some magic to your life?

The answer is not in posting more Instagram reels.

Or getting more followers on Tik Tok.

You don’t even need to buy anything.

You can simply step outside your front door (or even stay inside your house if you’re a “homebody”) and go on an adventure.

It starts with questioning why things are the way they are.

And being curious about absolutely everything.

How did this get here? Where did it come from? Who built it?

A simple appreciation of the natural (or commercial) world can open the door to big experiences of awe and wonder.

Thankfully, Nele Vandersmissen has made it her mission to help you do just that.

She wants to help you create more wonder in your life.


Because wonder has huge benefits, including quietening your mind (without meditating), slowing your heart rate, and reducing stress.

Nele masterfully describes how embracing awe and wonder can lead to enhanced life satisfaction and overall well-being.

She explains the practical steps you can take to create wonder and awe even in the face of life’s challenges, such as grief, sadness, or anxiety.

It’s all about being present in the moment.

It’s about slowing down and truly appreciating the beauty of nature.

These seemingly simple acts can lead to unexpected awe-filled moments that transform your perspective on life.

And speaking of transforming perspectives, we take a daring leap into the significance of animist worldviews (animals, plants, objects) and explore how they enrich our understanding of the world around us.

We tread into the realm of psychedelics and their potential as gateways to a deeper appreciation of life (and ourselves).

Nele also spoke about the beauty of discomfort – not avoiding it, but running towards it.

Facing your fears literally head on (unfortunately, there are no short-cuts that I’ve found).

Feeling multiple emotions simultaneously can lead to a more profound experience of life. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, but it can also be your ultimate teacher.

Nele brilliantly shares the power of story-telling and finding out the historical origins of someone’s name.

She also explains how focusing on personal experiences trumps the superficial discussions of labels and achievements, paving the way for meaningful connections.

Because stories, wonder, and joy help you find your place in the world.

They’re signposts that lead you on a wild, liberating adventure.

So if you’re ready to join us on this captivating quest for awe and wonder – hit the play button right now.

The path may be uncertain, but the rewards are immense (and endless).

Sign up to get notified of new podcasts here 👇

In this episode, you’ll learn…

  • The power of awe and wonder in reducing mental chatter and quieting your mind 🤯❤️
  • Nele’s experiences and learnings about how to create magic and wonder in your life every day ✨🔥
  • What to do if you have anxiety or fear but still want to feel joy 🥶 (yes, it’s totally possible to feel both!)
  • Specific strategies and techniques for unlocking your internal and external feelings of wonder and awe, and how to create lots of magical moments along the way 🔑
  • The many benefits of how wonder and awe can improve your life (and mental health) in huge, powerful ways 🙌

Connect With Nele Vandersmissen

Links from this episode:

Ellie McIntyre - sex money and rage podcast

Ellie Goode Host of the Provocative “Sex, Money & Rage Podcast, Nervous System Junkie, and Plant Psychonaut 🌿

I created Sex, Money & Rage to talk about everything that’s taboo. BDSM. Plant medicine. Healthy Rage. Kink. Emotions. Boundaries. Money issues. Less thinking, more feeling. How to get into your body and silence your overactive mind.

Sex, Money & Rage provides straight-up, powerful nervous system tools to help you dominate life’s toughest moments.

All podcast episodes are located here.

Do you have 30 seconds to leave a 5-star rating on Spotify / Apple? 🤗

I mean… who doesn’t have 30 seconds, right?

Click here to leave a rating on Spotify.

Click here to leave a review on Apple.

And in case you need some extra social proof to inspire you to leave a review, check out these super nice things people have already said…

The title sucked me in and I am glad! I just found out about this podcast and I was very impressed! The interview style is very interesting (not your usual dry interview questions) and gives a lot of insight into the way the guest thinks and held my attention the entire time.

Dumpster Muffin – USA

First-time listener but definitely not the last…Sex, Money & Rage connects listeners to impressive people with fascinating experiences to share. SMR is authentic, thought-provoking and an entertaining listen.

Jack, USA

Thank you for creating this space for people like-minded to talk openly and and feel OK to talk about these things.

Beau, Australia

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this podcast (and in the Sex, Money & Rage website) is for informational and educational purposes only and therefore it does not constitute medical advice. Please consult a medical practitioner or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses or treatment. To the maximum extent permitted by law (including the Australian Consumer Law), we exclude all liability for any loss or damage of any kind (including consequential loss, indirect loss, loss of profit, loss of benefit, loss of opportunity or loss of reputation) whether under statute, contract, equity, tort (including negligence), indemnity or otherwise arising out of or in connection with the Site or the Content. For more information about our terms, click here.


Ellie GoodeHost00:04

Welcome to the Sex Money and Rage podcast.

Nele VandersmissenGuest00:08

And one of the things that he said is that I’m really confused as to why we have all these mindfulness practices we’re promoting, where we’re trying to help people get to a neutral state, you know, like we’re trying to get them to a place where they don’t feel terrible. Like why are we doing that? What the hell is that about? If you have all of this magic and wonder available in the world, we should be teaching young kids to cultivate wonder. But I do think a lot of our mindfulness practices are intended to get you to neutral and I’m like but you know what is that? We could just be so joyful. What if we all just started cultivating wonder and have this incredible capacity to be masters of our own lives?

Ellie GoodeHost00:58

Welcome back to Sex, money and Rage. I’m your host, ellie, and thank you for tuning in again. We have another great episode today with Neela Vendasmussen. We talked about the power of awe and wonder and what that does to your body, your emotions, your mind being in a state of awe. I came across some research while preparing for this podcast from Harvard Business Review about the power of awe and wonder and the effects it can have on the mind, the body, on your nervous system. So I wanted to read out a snippet from this article, which I will link to in the show notes for anyone interested.


So, university of Michigan psychologist Ethan Cross defines awe as the wonder that we feel when we encounter something powerful that we can’t easily explain. Think of a starry night sky, an act of great kindness or the beauty of something small and intricate. It could be anything that leaves you in the feeling of awe. They then go further down to say some of the benefits of awe. So as you focus on something bigger than yourself, something externally incredible, what happens is your sense of self shrinks, so does your mental chatter and your worries, and at the same time, your desire to connect with and help others increases. People who experience or also report higher levels of overall life satisfaction and well-being. There’s also positive effects on stress and resilience. So people who experience or also experience lower stress levels, and there’s some recent experimental research that suggests that awe can actually reduce stress. So there’s a causal relationship there. So I was really surprised by that. I didn’t realize there’d be science around it. So that was a really lovely discovery.


And, yeah, Nele just has some really really cool stuff to say about how do we cultivate wonder? So, instead of waiting for a situation which puts us in awe, how do we practically create that in our life? So we’re not waiting for something to unleash that within us that we can go out and actually create it ourselves. So we talked about that. We talked about the power of how it helps us and how, as Nele mentioned in the intro snippet, that most, or at least a lot of mental health practices out there are trying to get us to a point of feeling, okay, neutral. And she makes this point of like, what about all the joy and the wonder that’s out there? How do we get that? You know, everyone wants to be happy, everyone wants to feel joy, and so how do we practically create this in our lives, and so I had a lot of fun interviewing Nele. She’s worked for Snapchat, she has received grants from the UN. She has just combined some really, really cool, different, interesting practices together to help people just create more wonder in their lives and to feel more amazed at life.


So if that sounds good to you, then keep listening. You’re going to enjoy this episode. If you’ve been listening to the podcast and you’re enjoying it, that’s awesome. Please hit the subscribe or follow button If you haven’t already. It will pop up a notification on your phone whenever new episodes go live, which at the moment, is fortnightly. Yeah, and thank you to everyone who subscribed and left five star reviews. It really means so much to me. So that’s it from me. I’m going to go through this episode and let’s jump in. Welcome. Welcome, Nele. It’s great to meet you. So I wanted to first of all welcome welcome to the podcast, and I wanted to start off by asking you. I was reading through your website in preparation and you mentioned something about believing in magic, and I wanted to ask what do you mean by this Great?

Nele VandersmissenGuest04:37

opening question. Thanks for having me Sure, I just believe that there is a lot possible beyond what we can perceive with the eyes or even with all of our you know, known senses. So I think that we all have these experiences I call them numinous pearls in life where something happens that is kind of inexplainable. So we have this experience of something that’s like wow, you know, the odds of that happening are nil, and I think that everyone I mean I’m pretty sure that everyone that you meet on the street, random strangers can tell you about one story they have about something happening that’s quite magical, you know.


And I also think that we have the possibility to have more of those moments and to be the co-creator of those moments, rather than the person that it happens to, and that, I think, is a really interesting way to look at life. So what if we start living life and think as if we’re the creators of this magic, like we are the people that are painting this masterpiece of a life, and we are saying, yes, I’m standing here, let’s, you know, let’s co-create more magic. And then it happens and I can talk about this for a very long time, because I know that there is actual physics to this as well and like how can you hire the propensity of this happening, etc. But I 100% believe that those moments, those meaningful moments in life that are magical, that we have the capacity to create more of them as human beings, and we’re currently not doing it and I’m kind of like why not?

Ellie GoodeHost06:20

Why are you not doing that?

Nele VandersmissenGuest06:23

That’s a short answer to your question.

Ellie GoodeHost06:26

Yeah, amazing, amazing. I also think this is a good place to start. So so I guess, in terms of you know, I mean, who doesn’t want more magic in their lives? Who doesn’t want more wonder and excitement? So I guess, what is it? Do you think that holds people back from creating, like you mentioned, co-creating this wonder? I think that’s a really cool concept. What do you think holds people back from doing that?

Nele VandersmissenGuest06:51

Oh, also a great question. I think there’s two main things. One of them is something that I like to call people get a bit domesticated. So it means that you kind of start fitting into all of these societal beliefs and expectation and you start shaping your personality to what you think is expected of you or what you think will make you have perceived success in life. And so for most people that means you have this dream of all these things you want to achieve or accomplish or actually buy.


Usually there are things you want to have or things you know, labels you want to give yourself, and we think that when we have those things, that then will be happy. And that’s, I mean, I guess that’s what society tells us, and so we’re conditioned to believe that. And so a lot of people live their lives kind of projecting their happiness or their magic into the future. So they’re like, once I have this label or this status, or this house or this car, this thing, then I’ll feel fulfilled. But none of the magic happens in that space, you know, because no one at the end of their life looks back and is like, remember the time I got 500 Facebook likes? You know, like those are not the moments that you look back on and that created meaning in your life. So one of them is we actually become domesticated and we start living our lives the way we’ve been told, the way our society kind of paints a picture for us that we should, and we’ve forgotten to actually dream our own dream and and, and you know, of course, when you start dreaming your own dream, then often and you know, this is great for this podcast, I think, because a lot of these subjects are taboo but a lot of those things that we really want don’t fit within that picture. You know a lot of those things have more freedom. You know, more feeling, more things that could potentially upset that status quo, or that, like you know, you need to buy a car, get a mortgage and, and you know, have some labels that you can stick on. So so that’s the first one.


And then the second one is, I think that currently we are actually, as children, no longer trained to really experience and cultivate wonder, and so we don’t have the capacity so much to actually feel in our bodies these wild emotions and other, you know, other aspects of wonder. I think there’s many aspects to it. One of them would be really having wild emotions. So being moved by the world and being moved by people around you and allowing for that feeling to really be present in your body, so that you’re not kind of trying to keep it, that you’re not trying to experience something in a way that’s acceptable for others, again in that domestication thing, you know, like what if you could be just wildly moved by things? What if you were moved to tears and you got goosebumps and you? You know that to me is wild emotion and that’s something that you get through experiencing wonder.


But it’s not something that we really support children with anymore. Like, let’s go explore these things in the natural world, that will blow your mind and then you can also fully express how you feel about that. So a lot of people actually just don’t have the skill of cultivating more than one emotion in their body. So this, you know, this wild emotion, this, this wild wonder, is not a feeling that many people have cultivated and know how to touch. And I think that being able to cultivate the feeling function of your body and having many feelings not all of them positive at the same time, but like that is also the foundation of creating more magic in your life. So then wonder becomes the gateway, like if you can cultivate wonder and really have wild emotion and be blown away and cultivate these positive feelings in your body and kind of do it whenever you want to and not just sit there and wait for the moment to find you, then there’s just going to be more moments like that. It feels simple.

Ellie GoodeHost11:20

I don’t know. Yeah, yeah, no, I mean, yeah, it sounds simple. I think for people, you know, like you said, like if it’s not something that’s being cultivated or practiced, then people are going to be like what is this? How do I create this? This feels foreign. So I think, yeah, I think, especially mentioning about feeling it in your body, you know it’s, it’s, you know, I think as humans, we can all be like, oh, I, I think I’m angry or I think I’m happy, and it’s like, but do you feel it Like? What do you feel in your body, and does that connect with your mind? Or so I really liked the feeling wondering in your body piece as well, and so I guess, what would that feel like? Like I guess I know kind of roughly what I would feel, but yeah, when you, yeah, work with wonder, yeah, yeah, it can be very many things.

Nele VandersmissenGuest12:08

I think the beauty of it is that wonder is not one emotion, but it’s a compound of different feelings, and so it can be many things. But for me it could be like I could be watching a sunset and just be having this feeling of wow. There’s, you know, possibility, like a feeling of like everything is possible, or a feeling of like being blown away by beauty, a feeling of kind of like smallness you know where the world is so big and you’re like wow, that excitement, like wonder, can be excitement. You can have joy. I mean, I’m sure there’s a minute like happiness, there’s a minute. You can kind of compound them. Also, it’s not just one one emotion.


Curiosity is a good one too, because you actually have a moment you experience wonder when you’re in the presence of something you can’t quite explain. You know that is like out of the ordinary, and those moments are there all the time. You can look for them, like even if you just pick up a leaf and you look at it and you appreciate the geometry and how wild the coloring of that is, and that’s kind of inexplainable, you know. You’re like wow, how did it? You know could spend the lifetime just doing that and so having the capacity to do that and find it creates more of it.


But yeah, that is the cultivation of the slowing down and actually letting the thing hit you in the body.


That’s how you can practice it. So you would, I always say to people, if you want to go, stock it like, if you want to go out and stock, wonder it and you kind of slow down. So it’s like having a calm nervous system and you would go for a walk or you know, you’d sit somewhere and you’d have your phone off or on airplane mode and you’d actually just take a moment to let something communicate with you, because it’s a relational quality, so you would be in communication with you know, a rock, a leaf, a sunset, something in nature or a person. Because you can have wonder by having a conversation with a person and just being really blown away by that person’s resilience or strength or moral beauty and actually just taking the time to fully listen. So it’s all about slowing down and being present and allowing for the other thing to be in relationship with you and then allowing for the thing, the person or the item or the thing in nature to move you and then noticing like how many different emotions can you conjure up?

Ellie GoodeHost15:07

Yeah, probably a lot, a lot, yeah, nice Amazing.

Nele VandersmissenGuest15:16

What is your? What is your favorite? Like if you had to name one thing, I’m just going to ask you a random question, but one memory that you have in your life where you were just awestruck by something and could be a person or something in nature or, you know, like a festival or something, anything.

Ellie GoodeHost15:33

Yeah, I guess, when that comes to mind would be where I live. So we live on a maybe like a acre block or half acre block, a couple thousand meters, and we look at um facing this huge mountain and it’s got so many different textures and colors and it’s it’s so vivid that it’s like it’s breathing. I don’t know or like if you’ve ever if someone’s listening and you’ve ever taken mushrooms and stuff kind of glows or breeds. It has that quality, but without having any um psychedelics obviously, just looking at it so often in the morning, like I’ll, I’ll just be sitting out there and I’m just in wonder and awe because, like, like he’s mentioned that, feeling really small. So the mountain is so huge, like it would be. The top of this mountain would probably be 1500 meters elevation from where I am, and we’re already at 3000 meters elevation, so it’s it’s very high and so to be sitting at the base of it looking up um definitely creates a wonder experience for me. Yeah.

Nele VandersmissenGuest16:42

Oh, that’s amazing. That’s amazing that you just have that on your doorstep. So it’s there all the time, very lucky, yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s awesome, yeah, I think, um, also often, when we live in places that don’t have this aspect of nature so prevalent, people forget to that everything’s alive, you know, like, and the thing is, if you look at, I’m sure, where you are, um, the traditional people that live there still have an animist worldview, so they would see that mountain as a living being that they can be in communication with and are in communication with, no doubt, and and for us, we’ve started in our predominant Western worldview. I think we’ve started seeing everything in nature as like, inanimate, almost like we. We are the people that have consciousness but nothing else has, and so when you pick up a rock, it’s not alive, you know. A mountain’s not alive, a tree doesn’t really have, you know, but for most people in indigenous cultures they have an animist worldview.


So everything is alive and you can communicate with, and it has a spirit and has something to tell you, or you know, and then your life is filled with wonder all the time, because you can just be like having a conversation with a tree or a rock or taking a moment to listen to the sunset, you know, and then it just changes life entirely. Like, can you imagine that it’s just always available? Yeah, and so I think, like the magic of that is is always available. We’ve just kind of gotten domesticated or stuck in like, oh, that’s not natural. Or will people think, if I start talking to a tree, you know, but like, but like you said when you’re in psych, on psychedelics, so you take mushrooms and everything’s alive, you know, and then you’re like, oh, then everyone’s suddenly talking to trees.

Ellie GoodeHost18:41

Yeah, because I think we should be yeah.

Nele VandersmissenGuest18:48

Yeah, it’s like a remembering. I think that’s what it does. I think people just remember. And then also on psychedelics, I think people you know kind of that domestication sheen drops, so like those, I call them the secret agents. That are the you know the voices inside that try to keep us walking in line and keep us, you know, keep us acting the way we should be acting to be accepted in society. But in essence they’re keeping us small. But the secret agents, I think they take a vacation. When you take psychedelics they’re like in a different room or something.

Ellie GoodeHost19:25

They’re having a time out Time out.

Nele VandersmissenGuest19:30

Yeah, and so then, yeah, for a lot of people I think it’s a really good gateway to actually experience life as it should be experienced, as it kind of always is available, you know, but you just have temporarily forgotten or bypassed that capacity, and then it’s a good way, I think, to kind of clear that channel and then be like, oh, this is just available all the time I could. I’m not sure why I’m not accessing this more often.

Ellie GoodeHost20:02

Yeah, it’s interesting, like what you mentioned about inanimate objects. I’ve had that experience a while ago when I went to Lima just for a few days and from living in like a tiny village in the mountains to then going to Lima, huge city, it was like well for my nervous system and it was interesting. I was sitting in a restaurant and it was like just by looking at, because there was so much commotion going on, and just by looking at the furniture or these structures of the restaurant that were not moving, it was like I could become really still as well. And so you know, this whole crazy city energy is going on and I’m just like talking to the chair in a restaurant and you know, hey, man, can we chill out together? Yeah, and it was such a cool experience of just being able to, I guess, align or focus, because it’s like what you focus on, you create more of. So, by focusing on the stillness of this concrete structure or furniture, it was like I could align to that and it was such a cool experience, yeah.

Nele VandersmissenGuest21:09

I love it. Yes, nailed it. I think that’s it. We have the capacity to be in relationship with everything, and it’s not the same as talking to a human being, but everything has information for us. Or we could even be curious about like there’s wonder in everything. I could be like I wonder who made this cup, I wonder where that came from, I wonder what’s in it. You know, like I could spend the day doing that and the same as with the chair, or just be like what’s the information this thing has for me right now and just listen and be still and see what happens. Yeah, and then everything is kind of magical and I also really you know, like you said you, what you focus on, you create more of. That’s exactly it. So what if you start perceiving life as magical all the time and you see the wonder in everything? Then you know, guess what? It just becomes more wonderful.

Ellie GoodeHost22:05

That’s really cool.

Nele VandersmissenGuest22:07

Yeah, so that’s kind of like, the more you can perceive it, the higher the propensity of you experiencing becomes. And there’s something that happens in the magical web of interconnectedness that I can’t give you a physical explanation for, scientific explanation for, but it increases the likelihood of there being synchronicities and and like really wild. You know things happening and that I love, that’s something and I’m like, oh, wow, I don’t know how that works, but it definitely works that way. So the more that we cultivate, these come like the compound of the positive feelings and we’re really in appreciation and in relationship to everything. Then that web I don’t know it just gets activated or something, and then and something happens that’s so like wow, and those moments of like wild wonder that happened rarely normally, just kind of increase and yeah, that’s really cool.


I mean, that’s something I’m like. Why, like wouldn’t we all want to be curious about that? Be cool if we could just like I don’t know, gather, gather more wonder and more magic in our lives. And yeah, anyway, that’s my question. I’m like, why would we not do that? I don’t understand.

Ellie GoodeHost23:34

And so I guess, yeah, to follow on from that, say, someone who’s listening who might be skeptical or be struggling, say, with anxiety or depression even, or just like what’s the point? Like they’re really struggling to see the wonder how, like how could they, I guess, step out of that for a minute? Or, yeah, do you work with people who sort of because I guess a lot of people struggle with that these days yeah, yeah, and I think a lot of it for me.

Nele VandersmissenGuest24:01

I mean, I also have experienced that in times of my life and for me there’s really something about learning to be present and being able to turn towards things. I always say it’s looking at what are the ways that you’re not turning towards the thing you should be turning towards, like what’s the conversation you’re not willing to have? And what helps is being able to turn towards things that are beautiful, like, strangely enough, what I found in moments in my life where I’ve experienced anxiety or depression or just things not being in flow, that those are the moments where I’m actually not helping myself so much. You know, they’re the moments where I it’s almost like I don’t want to see the wonder, like it becomes harder. I didn’t know how you experienced that when I’m a bit stuck in a rut and it doesn’t help. It doesn’t happen so often now, but if I were to be stuck in a rut a little bit, then those are the days where it’s harder to do my practices or my routines that will get me out of it, whereas those are the days that I would need them the most and there is that like secret agent thing happening, I think, where there’s a part of you that just likes to keep you there, you know, and it’s actually learning to work To turn towards that and be like hey, can we just do this differently? Like what’s really happening here? Like what am I really afraid of? What’s the feeling that I’m actually trying to avoid?


Because what I find is the thing you’re avoiding is never as bad as you think you’re going to be. It’s going to be, and typically it is actually like fully feeling something, because I think when you get it’s like depression or anxiety is more like a lack of feeling than it is a feeling. You know, it’s kind of like an avoiding of a feeling, almost like you’re you’re trying to turn away from something, like often you’ll also be scrolling through your phone or have addictive behaviors to solve it and all of those things. Are you turning away from the thing that wants your attention? So, like, how can you learn to be with a feeling just as cultivating wonder? Is you learning to be with the feeling of, of joy, of all of the things? And cultivating that? And this would be the same, but I guess it would be turning towards the thing that’s uncomfortable. My friend calls that putting the disco back into discomfort.

Ellie GoodeHost26:53

That’s great.

Nele VandersmissenGuest26:55

Because there is beauty in that too. It’s just, you know, often, often melancholy or nostalgia, or, but there’s a romance in that too. Like the whole human experience is wonderful really. And what I always say is when you can learn or when you have the capacity to cultivate positive feelings in your body and wonders great, because it helps you really work on holding more than one good feeling at the same time. So you could be curious and joyful and excited and you know, and once you have that as a foundation and you can cultivate that, then you can build on top of it and then you kind of also be like okay, maybe today I feel sad or maybe I’m worried about something, but I can at the same time still appreciate the beauty of life, you know.


So I mean, I had a bit of a weird day yesterday where I was like, oh, I’m feeling a little bit off center and I was still able to like go for a walk and be like, wow, it is the most amazing wintery day and I could see the sun through the fern and like I could still appreciate. And then I felt a ton better when I came home. So it was like I know how to do the thing where I can hold more than one thing at the same time, like I can be worried a little bit about something and there is no nothing wrong with that, it’s just a human experience and I can also still be blown away by the beauty of the world and so then it becomes a kind of a good foundation to have, because it kind of balances it out a little bit. It doesn’t mean that you’re bypassing the thing that really wants your attention, but it means that you can kind of give perspective to it. Yeah, keep it that more than more than one thing can exist at once, you know.

Ellie GoodeHost28:48

Yeah, that’s cool it’s something I’ve played with too of like, like you can even bring that curiosity, I guess, into the anxiety or the depression or the worry of like, oh, like, where is this coming from? Or in bringing that, I find sometimes then I end up just laughing at myself because you know, it’s just like, yeah, like I said, like it’s just a human experience and and our minds are out. What did you call the secret agents you know inside would tell us all these different things and and sometimes, like I just I just start laughing because it’s so ridiculous. And so, yeah, bringing that curiosity and that wonder in, I think can really really help for sure.

Nele VandersmissenGuest29:31

Yeah, I think you’ve. Yeah, that’s a good the like, being curious about it. It’s the turning towards the thing that really helps with anxiety, I think turning towards the world and being open towards the world, but also turning towards the things that are difficult. So it’s, how can you live your life turning more towards things rather than away from, because otherwise you spend your whole life turning away from things and then you at the end of your life, you look back and you just like you weren’t there. So how can you turn towards what grabs you and moves you and it’s different for everybody.


Like, but that’s a fun project is, like I call that tracking your wonders. Like, how do you track the things that made you feel alive as a child? Like, track them and be like, oh my God, it was like I was obsessed with Egypt, I wanted to be an archaeologist, but like, that’s a fun thing to track, to be like, oh, wow, you know, I was really curious about history and I was really curious about this and about nature and I loved painting, and these are all the things that, like, made me feel alive. And how can I incorporate some more of that into my life?


Like, what am I curious about still Like what are the things that really make me feel alive? What are the activities that I’m not doing but actually I should be doing, because that’s what really brings me joy? And then, what are the conversations that I’m not willing to have because those are the things that are giving me anxiety, and that’s and that’s conversations with other people and yourself and with the world around you. So it could be something like the conversation, or not willing to have could be like is this the right job for you, really, you know, or is this the right relationship for you? Or do you live in the place that’s right for you? Or or any choices you have made in your life that you know you made because that you thought you were expected to do that thing, and and now you find out that actually you know, you’re unwilling to have the conversation to redirect, I guess.

Ellie GoodeHost31:53

It’s. It’s sort of what you mentioned about earlier, about the being domesticated and putting these self imposed limits on ourselves, you know, and then, like you said, if you don’t, if we don’t challenge these paradigms that we have or ask these questions, like you said, you’re just going to get to the end of your life and be like what did I do? You know, totally, yeah, I think it’s really important. I think, like and everyone has to walk that path for themselves of what, what resonates for them and what, what aligns, and asking those questions. But it’s it. Yeah, it’s not about, like, being positive all the time or being happy all the time. Like you said, it’s learning to bring all of these things into balance in a beautiful way, which is cool.

Nele VandersmissenGuest32:37

Yeah, I always say when people, when I work with people, I always say just so you know, this is not about being happier, this is you’re going to come out feeling more alive, but not you know, kind of don’t know what you’re going to get. It will be better, like you’ll feel more alive and like you’ll be definitely like alive and in the world. But it’s not. I just I don’t have a magical pill for happiness.

Ellie GoodeHost33:13

Yeah, you’d be very rich if you did.

Nele VandersmissenGuest33:18

I know, but wouldn’t that be ever so boring? Like no one would have a good story Because you can’t like you. I mean, all the good stories have a whole circle and you know it’s. It’s never like I won the lottery and everything was amazing. That would be the most boring story.

Ellie GoodeHost33:39

Yeah, yeah, it’s cool. I like you know like it is. It’s something I think they explored in the good place, that TV show of you know. They get to heaven so-called heaven and they have everything they want and there’s no challenge, there’s no stress, there’s no struggle and they’re all bored and they all get sick of it and it’s I just. I love that show because it takes these, you know, I guess, moral or religious or ethical ideas and puts them into practice in a visual way and plays them out so that we can see how they might work in reality. And it was just such an interesting thing of like, yeah, the struggle or the journey is adventure is that’s life, you know. And to take all of the pain and suffering away, take away, I think, the wonder and the joy, in a sense, because a lot of that comes from overcoming these parts of ourselves and learning to love these, you know, shadow parts of ourselves. That if we didn’t have that, then would we experience wonder in the same way? Like, I don’t know, yeah.

Nele VandersmissenGuest34:50

Yeah, I think. Yeah, the answer would be you wouldn’t, I think, because you just don’t have that spectrum available of all of the feelings. So that’s why, you know, and I fully agree, that’s why I would say, you know, you’re gonna feel more alive with the full spectrum available, but that’s actually what makes it more colorful, that’s what makes life more colorful, because you also, I think, when we’re moved by someone telling a story, we’re actually moved by their moral beauty and their overcoming of something. That’s typically the part of the story that moves us. It’s like something happened and that person, you know, had a way of responding to that that was morally beautiful, you know, and that’s what’s really inspiring.


And so it’s not again the story of like someone telling you a story about them winning the lottery and just being perpetually happy. You would just be like completely unmoved by that, you know, maybe you would have a bit of sacred envy, maybe a little bit of like sacred envy, but you wouldn’t be like whoa, that person, you know, because the most beautiful stories that move us, the ones that give us wonder, have a full spectrum in them and they have a sense of like people faced something and they overcame it in a way that’s inspiring, in a way that’s like, wow, isn’t that beautiful. You know, even though, that there was usually something that happened that wasn’t planned or, you know, didn’t feel so good for the person, the protagonist in the story.

Ellie GoodeHost36:40

Yeah, yeah. And so I guess from like more of a practical standpoint for people listening who are like, yep, I want more wonder. Sign me up. What are some things that you know they could do, safe in their day to day, to sort of cultivate more wonder? I mean, we sort of touched a little bit on the curiosity piece and, you know, maybe going for a walk, but are there some sort of practical ways that people can you know incorporate that?

Nele VandersmissenGuest37:06

Yeah, absolutely, I would say, of course, the one that’s really obvious, that’s available for everybody, even if you live in the city, is like wonder for nature. And so I like I have this practice, which I love doing when I feel a little bit down, because it’s a great uplifter and it has a little bit of humor in it. But it’s a praise walk, and a praise walk is when you go, and so the first the conditions are always you slow down, you take a few deep breaths and you come into your body so that you’re present. So the way that you could do that is just take a few deep breaths in and use your breath as a bridge to bring your mind into your body so you’re like you’re fully present. You open all your senses. You kind of like make sure that you smell, that you hear, that you see, that your sense of touch is available, and then you kind of go explore, like you know, indiana Jones style, you go around in your neighborhood and you go find something that’s gonna take your breath away. It’s like being a child again. So you kind of put on that lens of I’m a newborn baby or I’m like I’m three years old and I’m gonna explore my neighborhood and I’m gonna find something that is going to blow me away.


You know it can be anything and, like, when you set that intention, it always happens. And then you find the thing, whatever it is could be, you know, a leaf or a flower, or a rock or a tree or something that you’ve never noticed before, and then you praise it, like you know it was the most beautiful thing you’d ever seen. And I like doing it out loud, or sometimes get caught, and I don’t care. I’m like I’m just here praising this rock. You can think, you can feel however you want about that. Yeah, but there’s just something like, you know, almost like an ode to the thing, where you’re like I can’t believe it. Like, how is this color of green even legal? Yeah, who gave you permission? You know, I like to go a bit queer eye on it. That’s cool, like. And then, because you’re having this real focus or intention to see the beauty, it moves you. And there’s this relational thing that happens where you’re like wow, life, and then it’s a great perspective Giver. You’re just back into wow, everything is inexplainably well organized and magical, you know, and it’s just there. So that’s for me, that is a great way to just practice your capability to perceive the magic that’s already there. It’s like you just have to be intentional about it because it is everywhere, just as you could do that in your house and just have a sense of curiosity about everything. Like I said about the cup, it’s like who made this thing? Where does it come from? What’s the story? Like if I buy a pineapple right now in the supermarket, where did it come from? Who worked on that farm? Like what’s everything? Has this like chain of wonder to it that’s available? So it could be curiosity, it could be nature, it could be the other way to experience. It is, like I said, moral beauty.


So asking good questions, like in your relationships with people. It’s kind of the same as what we talked about earlier, where we have this belief that life is meaningful when we achieve certain things. Like we have these milestones that we think will make us happy. And we do the same with people. So often when we have conversations in social settings, we focus on these labels and achievements and the weather. So we have these conversations that just aren’t very wonderful. We’re like so mortgages, and what are you? Yeah, our neighborhood, we’re thinking of this and the mortgage rate, and then we want to buy this other house. And what school do your kids go to? And what did you study and what’s your job title? And like there’s no, like none of those things move you. You know they’re not wonderful.


So asking good questions in conversation is like that’s something that sparks wonder. So I always like asking people when I meet them, like this is a great opening question, so it’s just a fun tip for your next cocktail party. But when you meet someone and they tell you what their name is, I always ask them oh, what’s the story of your name? And then you know, even if they don’t know, then there’s a story there. Then at least you can see them be like oh, my God, I need to find out. And it always sparks a conversation and you know that’s a really good way, because then you’re curious about the person and it’s always a conversation that goes somewhere that’s more personal. Or I like to say like oh, I’ve been thinking of going on a holiday. Where’s the last place that you went to? That was like really amazing. Like tell me a story. Do you have a memory of being there? That was special, something like that. So you get more of the personal quality of the person, rather than the secret agents showing up and running the show.

Ellie GoodeHost42:47

Yeah, yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense, and so I guess, to flow on from that, what’s the story behind your name, if that’s okay to ask.

Nele VandersmissenGuest42:58

Yeah, good question. So my name’s Nele Vandersmissen is the full name. Actually, I have. My full name is Nele Marcella Irène Vandersmissen.

Ellie GoodeHost43:09

Wow, that’s so cool.

I love it.

Nele VandersmissenGuest43:12

It’s so long. Every time I have to call a financial institution it’s like the worst.

Ellie GoodeHost43:20

Filling out forms.

Nele VandersmissenGuest43:21

Yeah, yes, and I have many stories of my name. But my first name, Nele, is a Flemish name. So I was born in Belgium and my dad says that he always liked that name and it’s a traditional, very traditional Flemish name. There’s not that many, I think, in a for a hot minute in like 1979 and 1980, it was really popular, yeah, and so there’s a few people that are the same age as me that are called Nea. But then it kind of lost its popularity.


But Nele is the wife of Dale Eilish-Speakle and he is like a mythological figure. I don’t know if he was really real. I think he was just a figure in a story and a legend and he was a traveling comic but also someone who would oppose the system. So he was a bit like a comic act, like in our modern society, like in our modern world he would be a comic slash activist, I guess. So he would travel around with his wife, Nele, and they kind of tell pranks about the people in power and kind of wake up the people of the wake up the people to what was really happening through comedy. So that’s kind of cool. I feel like it’s a very.


What I’m really curious about my name at the moment is like how does my name make me who I am and how is it part of my story? And that’s something that is also kind of wonder. Invoking, you know, is to be curious about things and to be curious about your own story. So that’s another fun one for people listening. It’s like how can you track all these numinous pearls of your life and the things that gave you meaning so that you can create more of it? And one of them is the story of your name. Like it starts there. Like how does that become a red thread in your whole story? Like what is it? So if I think about it, I’m like, wow, I have been an activist and I love traveling and I’m kind of always trying to get people to wake up to things you know. So there’s like something there in the story what’s your story of your name? That’s a good question.

Ellie GoodeHost46:02

I probably need to do a little bit of research. My full name is Eloise, but I was called Eloise when I was in trouble and through primary school, so it does not have a good rap. So, as soon as I could, I was always Ellie and Eloise. And then, yeah, once I hit high school, I just dropped the Eloise completely and was just have been Ellie ever since. And even my parents never really called me except, yeah, like in rare circumstances when I was in trouble. But my mom and dad both agreed on my name. So I don’t have a middle name, like most people do, they can never believe it when they’re like you don’t have a middle name. So, yeah, I don’t know, and I think it’s a French name, but I don’t know, like, the origins of Eloise. Yeah, that’s kind of it in a nutshell, really, yeah, cool, thanks for sharing. Yeah, thank you, let’s see.


Are you curious about it? Now? I am. I’m like, yeah, I’ve got to go and research it now and, like, I loved what you said about like drawing meaning and sort of connecting some dots of your life especially, you know, something I’ve been playing with a lot lately is, instead of, like you said, waiting for these things to come, waiting for wonder or joy to come in, like how can we create that? How can we cultivate that? And I loved yet, like what you said about the name and how you can see yourself in different parts of it. I think that’s. That’s really cool. Like I’m really curious, there’s that word To know more.

Nele VandersmissenGuest47:40

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then it becomes this constellation, like I always I call it a masterpiece. I I would like to come up with a better name for it. If you have any suggestions, let me know. But I feel like that’s what it becomes yeah, yeah, constellation. It’s like you’re Piecing together the meaningful moments and they do mean something, and that’s what’s Like.


Then your life becomes this like that’s the magical sort of web of interconnected nest that happens, where you’re like wow, that makes no sense. It’s so cool, you know, and because there is kind of mystery in everything, but we, we don’t really, we don’t really appreciate that so much anymore, like in our modern society. That’s, mystery is not something that becomes a, a meaning giver or an information giver, and I think it’s so important, like it’s, that that’s exactly the thing that you want to kind of pick up all the rocks and find the meaning and find it. You know, the crawling things underneath, and that that mystery becomes the connective tissue of everything. And then it’s so interesting because it’s like, oh, what’s the story of my name? Like, what’s the thing I wanted to be when I grew up? How does that relate to? Because I wanted to be an archaeologist and I was obsessed with the, you know, pyramids and Egypt and all of that stuff. And now I’m like, oh, wow, that’s interesting because I actually like what I do, or part of what I do, is helping people, you know, dig up their stories, like it’s. I help people connect the dots and like See how they can carry that forward and what the larger story is going to be. So I am doing that, but in not, you know, I’m not somewhere in Egypt like Digging up or like sifting through. It’s just a different, a different way. But it’s interesting to look at it that way, to be like, oh, what is the thing that you know makes me feel alive? How can I connect the dots? I?


I recently started Doing art again, which I loved, always loved being like do. I was always doing some sort of craft or painting, and then the last few years I kind of felt like I didn’t have time. You know, I just got kind of caught up in working and being busy like, and so it felt like that was kind of a waste of my time or I didn’t really also feel the call to do it. And so lately I’ve started doing 30 minutes a day of art and I just kind of like lying on the table, and Sometimes I have to force it’s like, okay, I have to do it today to sit down. But every time I do it it’s like two hours later. You know, it’s never 30 minutes, because I love it and it doesn’t have to be perfect. You know, it’s just doodling or painting, whatever.


I feel like writing a poem, but I’m just noticing that like I’m picking up the thread of that again, like that was a part of me when I was younger, that made me who I was, like, made me feel alive. And now it’s become this habit, and now I’m like I can’t wait till I find my 30 minutes today and I’m just going to do it. And now I have all these ideas of art that I want to make. You know, it’s become this thing which I had when I was a kid too. I was like I want to make this, but big, and I want to do, do, do, do.


And now you know like, wow, I want to make treasure map of all my stories, and how am I going to do it? And I want some gold leaf, and I want. You know, I’m like, wow, how did that happen? Where did that come from? Yeah, but it’s. That’s kind of that tracking piece of how do you track the things that make you feel really alive If you want to create more magic. You’re kind of weaving that web of you know the meaning, the story, all of the things, all of these new and pearls of experience, and then it becomes a larger story and you can continue to thread. So it’s like finding the magic and the wonder in that. Just a fun experiment.

Ellie GoodeHost52:02

Yeah, following the thread and seeing where it leads, it’s really cool.


And I think Ashay M M M J mentions it in her book, but you know, like, like she calls it the anarchy.


So she’s like, if you’re procrastinating about something and there’s anarchy, like, she kind of thinks of that as like like listen to that. Like sometimes, like maybe not every time, I don’t know sometimes we do just have to push through the resistance, but she’s kind of like, you know, rather than pushing through the procrastination, it’s like maybe that’s a sign you’re not doing what you’re meant to be doing. You know, is there something that excites you instead, or that you’re passionate about, that you know, that you’re curious about, or that you know and and really kind of seeing that procrastination is kind of the anarchy causing like some sort of you know direction change, which sort of goes back to what you mentioned earlier about like asking the hard questions of do I really want to be in this job or do I really want to be with this person? And and yeah, like kind of seeing like the anarchy as being this kind of cool, kind of signpost of maybe a direction change. So I thought that that’s really cool, yeah.

Nele VandersmissenGuest53:12

Yeah, exactly that and that, you know, sometimes happens. And just like you can create more magic in your life, I think we sometimes also unintentionally create more chaos because we need a redirection. So it’s exactly the same kind of energy of you know, sometimes when you don’t turn towards the thing that you’re meant to turn towards, then it, you know something happens and the chaos comes in. You know it’s. It’s like sometimes you just need a redirection. If you’re not listening to the thread of the story where it you know the way the river should be flowing, then sometimes a man with a hammer comes and then something happens outside of your control and you just have this like violent redirection. You know, and that could be. You know something that happens.


It’s always something you didn’t plan, but I do believe that if you listen closely to the way the river is flowing and you turn towards the things and you’re in, you inquire about, like, why is this procrastination here? Why you can redirect the river and then the man with a hammer doesn’t have to come so often. So that is the other thing it’s like, if you can cultivate that sense of curiosity, aliveness, wonder and be in conversation and have all the real conversations that you’re meant to be having. Then you not only create more magic in your life, but you also lower the need for the you know the thunder and lightning to come in and redirect you, because there’s just you’re already doing it, you don’t need the external force. So then it becomes more self led.

Ellie GoodeHost54:59

That’s cool and I was going to read out a snippet I think it’s from your website. But just because I thought it was really cool about you know, I think people think of like magic and wonder is being these kind of out there sort of abstract things and like just to sort of talk about, I guess, a little bit of the science behind it, of was was really cool because I was like, oh wow, like this is really interesting If that’s cool, so yeah. So, as I think it says, when we experience wonder, our bodies release dopamine and stimulate the release of other hormones and neurotransmitters, such as oxytocin and endorphins. These are associated with feelings of bonding, connection and happiness. Together, these hormonal responses help to create a powerful and positive emotional experience that can have a lasting impact on our physical and mental health.


So I just thought that was really cool and I actually came across a few studies that said, yes, basically the same thing of just this sense of basically feeling really small, which is probably, you know, in the nature concept of or in wonder of looking at a mountain or looking at a huge lake or something, or looking at space and the stars like this concept or this experience of feeling so small. It actually diminishes the sense of self we have or our mind, and so we’re not when we’re in that state of wonder and all like, we’re not in our mind, which is which I was just like that’s so cool that they’ve done studies about this and like what a cool experience to create more of in our lives.

Nele VandersmissenGuest56:34

Yeah, I know, you know what I am, and there is a professor at Berkeley who just studies awe and wonder, by the way, and like he’s amazing here. Yeah, it was so lucky I started my company called wonder and then, like two months later he was like, by the way, I’m a professor at Berkeley that wrote a whole book about this and it’s coming out now. I was like, convenient, thanks for that, good timing. But there was a book he wrote which is called awe, conveniently, and his name is Dacher Keltner and I really recommend kind of listening. He’s done a few podcasts recently because he’s been promoting the book and so he talks about this a lot.


And one of the things that he said so I don’t want to claim this as my own, but it really had had home for me was that I’m really confused as to why we have all these mindfulness practices we’re promoting, where we’re trying to help people get to a neutral state, you know, like we’re trying to get them to a place where they don’t feel terrible, like why are we doing that? What the hell is that about? If you have all of this magic and wonder available in the world, we should be teaching young kids to cultivate wonder, you know we should be, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m like I know there’s practices out there like I love breathwork, for example, that really works for me, and there’s other practices out there like I feel great when I do yoga, etc. But I do think a lot of our mindfulness practices are intended to get you to neutral. But you know what is that? We could just be so joyful, but I also feel like it doesn’t serve the world. It’s like what if we all just started cultivating wonder and have this incredible capacity to be, you know, you know, masters of our own lives? Like our whole society would fall apart because you know it just doesn’t function. Our whole society is based on everybody being consumers and believing that they need all these things in order to be happy. And I think, if we’re honest, we all know that’s a lie. You know because, like we said, you don’t get to the end of your life and be like, oh, the 500 Facebook likes. Or you know, it really made me happy, my car. You know like, yeah, it’s just not. Those are just not the moments you remember when you, you know, when you get to that place. But so we should be teaching children how to cultivate wonder, so that they always have the capacity to like, have that experience that you talk about, where you’re just small.


Because I also think that there is a lot of anxiety, like people are experiencing a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of stress, there’s a lot like we just mental health is not in a great way, historically, I think, and and people get really self and, like I, self involve, self obsessed. So there’s this like spiral of self that’s happening, whereas wonder takes you out of the self and that’s what’s so healing about it. It’s like, wow, but look at this whole world out there, you know, and we’re often just stuck in this, like little in our phone and ourselves in our own minds, and it becomes this cycle of like, you know, obsessive, an obsessive cycle, and like I know what that feels. Like I have it too sometimes, where I’m like, oh my God, sometimes I organize an event and then for a day no one signs up for it or something, and then I start obsess and it becomes this cycle of like, oh my God, what if people think it’s awful? What if I’m actually not talented at all? What if I’m really bad at this? Oh my God, and then if I don’t take myself out of that spiral and have a conversation. Then it can go, that loop can just continue on.


And I want to get to a mutual state. I want to be like oh yeah, listen, you were allowed to, you were allowed to do that, but we know we do that and it’s not true. So let’s just go out and go for a wander and appreciate the beauty of the world or watch the sunset or have a hot cacao or go for a swim or do like anything that makes me feel good in the life Like I love going to sauna, but just something like that and then feel like, oh yeah, I caught myself in that trap and I didn’t. I took myself out of it and like open the perspective up, so knowing like I think for people it’s really helpful to know what is your toolkit in that scenario like what’s your wonder toolkit that you have? That are the things that kind of can take you out of that loop that you can get stuck in. Because it isn’t, it isn’t true, that’s just a conversation you’re having internally, that’s, you know, untrue.

Ellie GoodeHost01:01:42

Yeah, yeah. And so I guess, like, what are the things that help you shift out of that mindset when you do get caught up? Is it to go and like, have these experiences of wonder? Is it to go and have a walk? Is it to sort of refocus your attention elsewhere? What do you find? Yeah, great.

Nele VandersmissenGuest01:01:59

I have a whole toolkit of things. The first one would be is to not to turn, not to turn away from it, so like, if I start feeling this way that I don’t start scrolling on my phone or that I’m aware of what the behaviors are of turning away from and trying not to do that, so really turning towards the secret agent and be like, hey, what’s really up here, you know. So I have that conversation and I know that I actually know the inner council, that I call it inner council. But I do know the parts of me that can show up when I’m, for example, self doubting and I can be like, okay, I see you, I know that you’re here, and like what’s really, what’s really alive for you, like what’s the thing you’re afraid of? And kind of do whatever practice I need to. I love dancing, so I like spending time just a song, one song or two songs, just feeling all the feelings that are alive and like shaking it out or sometimes even screaming, whatever. You know, emotional release I need to have works really well. So that type of embodiment practice is really helpful for me To take me out of my mind loop and just be like, okay, this part of me, this secret agent part of me wants to express something. She’s afraid or she’s angry, and I’m just going to give her permission to do it. So that’s one of the things. And then one of the other things would be to make sure I nourish myself so, like that I don’t punish myself, because I think that was an old behavior I had of like, well, now you can’t have nice food or something, no, I’m just going to make sure that I have a bath or I eat nice food or I get to do something I like. For me, nature is my main wonder gateway and that’s why I live in the Blue Mountains as well, so I will automatically.


My first response if I start looping is to go outside, and thankfully I have the flexibility to do that. But like I had a day like that yesterday and I just at 11am or so, I was like, okay, bye, I need to take myself out of this. And then I just was outside for two hours and I walked and it completely took me out. Like it was fresh air, it was the sun through the ferns, it was the mountains, it was the waterfall and it was like, okay, just back to. Yeah, and I and it’s okay to not bypassing I’m still.


I can feel the sense of self doubt about something and also be captivated at the same time by the beauty of the world. And then it’s just not so big that feeling. It doesn’t become such a, you know, self fulfilling loop then, because I also know by now that it’s probably not realistic. So, like, the thing I was worried about yesterday is not true today, you know. So, yeah, but I like creating beautiful moments.


That, for me, is the magic. So I like to be thinking of oh, I’m the painter of this masterpiece, what can I add to it today? Like, what’s the thing? And so I like doing things. Like when I eat, I like for the food to look beautiful. That’s something that gives me joy, you know. So I like to decorate things. I love to have a candle on the table when I eat. Or I like to create little moments like that, or like when I do my 30 minutes of art a light, a candle, I’ll have something nice to eat like. It’s like I ritualize things so that they have meaning for me, and that is my way of creating that a lot. So I like to add ritual to things and create wonder that way.


But but it’s really different for everybody and, like I said, the way that you can kind of create your toolbox is by tracking the wonders or being like what are the moments that I have, the memories I have that lit me up, or what are the times where I, you know, something took my breath away, like what are, what are those things and how can I do more of them and how can I kind of ritualize them in my life, and that then becomes your toolkit. I think, yeah, it’s cool, it’s oh, sorry, you go, yeah. And the last thing I would want to say is I think there’s people there’s so much information out there and so many people writing books about this is what will fix your life. And I think I just would want to say, like, it’s different for everybody and you have to remember that you’re a unique person. No one’s like you, so you’d always you’d have your own toolkit.


It’s never the same as anyone else’s, and that’s the mystery and the beauty of that too, of like, how can you find the things that really light you up? Let that become your quest. You know your quest is to find your own toolkit and make your own toolkit and not be, and I guess that’s helpful to know because, like, for example, I’m not much of a meditator. It’s just never worked for me. I can appreciate breathwork or take a few deep breaths and I know that’s good for me, but you will never find me sitting somewhere for 45 minutes trying to be still because I just have no joy in that. It doesn’t actually do anything for me. So that’s just not in my toolkit and that’s okay.


So I would just invite people not to force things, not to be like oh, just because this person decided that waking up at 5am every morning was a good idea for them, I should feel bad because it isn’t for me. It’s like, no, you, you have to make your own sort of wonder map. Like you’re making your own toolkit and and it looks different for everybody and I always say it’s a treasure map you’re making a treasure map of your, of your wonders, and that becomes your toolkit and then you have access to it at all times. It doesn’t become this like to do list of things. It’s like, no, you’ll want to do all these things because you like them and they’re going to make you happier and healthier. Like isn’t that kind of I mean joy. Yeah, we should all just do things we love. That’s it. Yeah, no, that’s it’s cool.

Ellie GoodeHost01:08:34

It’s like it’s almost just comes back to like following your impulse, following, like you said, like what, what brings you joy?


And because it can, it’s different for everybody and and it’s funny because I talked to my brother about this of sometimes there can be like a sense of guilt around feeling joyful of like oh, but there’s so much suffering in the world, or you know, if I’m feeling so much joy or if I’m feeling so good, like it’s I’m doing something wrong, like it’s too easy, and so it’s almost like that. I guess that’s the mind obviously coming in to try and control and shift back into those old ways of being. But it’s, it’s definitely being, I guess, a process for me of learning to feel my joy and express my joy and not feel guilty because of that. Because I think that a lot of people probably feel that guilt or shame of like you know how can I feel joyful like when other people are suffering, and yeah, it’s an interesting thing. But I think the more joy we feel, the better we are in ourselves, like, the more everyone around us is going to feel better, absolutely.

Nele VandersmissenGuest01:09:42

Yeah, yeah, that’s it. I also like the joy is the key to all the information you need. Yeah, so, like, I 100% believe that every single person has a unique genius and a unique talent, and that talent and that genius comes through in moments that you feel joyful, kind of like. The things that make you will feel alive are in overlap with the things that you’re good at and the things that you’re meant to be doing, so they’re a really quick kind of source of information, and we all have the birthright to experience pleasure and to be joyful. And the more that you are joyful and the more that you are in your pleasure, the better, the more impact you have on others around you. It’s really simple, and the more that you cultivate it, the more kind of magnetic your field becomes. That’s the other like thing that’s really interesting. And then you start kind of compounding all these meaningful moments. But I think your joy is really the key to the key to life, like the key. That’s like that’s where your treasure map should start.


The things that bring you joy and the things that make you feel alive are the things that you meant to do more of, and they’re usually related to the things that you’re good at and how can you do more of that? Because that’s what the world needs. And I mean, like I said, I believe everybody is here to do something. We’re not just here to accumulate possessions. We’re here to make a meaningful life and that life is always in service to something bigger than ourselves. And it doesn’t have to be this traditional thing of like I started Greenpeace or I think people kind of see it in that siloed way, but often it’s just like really being alive in the world and impacting people that way, or raising conscious children that are going to contribute in a way. But if you’re the person in your society that is like the light in your community, then that’s your impact. You just bring joy to people. That’s your gift, that’s your purpose, that’s the thing that you came here to do. Maybe you’re the person that really sees people and then people feel really seen every time that they’re with you, like what a fun skill to develop, what a fun talent to become good at, and how are you going to be at.


So I don’t think people are born with a purpose in the sense of you’re meant to be a firefighter. It isn’t quite as practical as that, but I think people do have a certain genius or a certain talent that they’re meant to bring out in the world, and it’s always related to what brings them joy. So, yeah, there’s something really interesting about that. And so when we’re telling ourselves that we’re not allowed to cultivate more joy and there’s so much misery in the world or there’s things happening, I feel like we’re kind of dampening our capacity to fully step into ourselves and actually be of service, because I think it comes through joy. And again, that’s one of those weird limiting beliefs that society has put upon us. It’s like, you know, that tall poppy thing of like not too much, not too joyful, not too like. Yeah, it should just be more filled with joy and pleasure all the time. Can you imagine how much better life would be if everyone was just constantly doing what they loved?

Ellie GoodeHost01:13:11

Yeah, it’d be epic, epic, It’d be so good, yeah. And so I guess that sort of flows into sort of what you’re doing with your business with wonder is, I guess, helping people tap into this joy, this wonder in themselves, connecting to their sort of purpose. How, I guess maybe two-fold, is what made you decide to go into that as a business, and how do you help people to connect with themselves and unlock those gifts in themselves?

Nele VandersmissenGuest01:13:40

Yeah, I decided to do it. So I’d been working for four years at Snapchat as a council specialist, and what that means is we created at Snapchat. We had circle practice in the company, and so I helped set that up in this region in Asia, pac, and every team would sit together and circle and share stories, and it was amazing to be able to be part of that project and see how much it impacted people in the organization and how incredibly good the culture in this organization was, because people really could see each other and show up in a human way. And for me, wonder is one of the main reasons for that. Because we get to see someone’s moral beauty, or we get to see a part of a person that we become curious about, or a piece of them that’s human that we didn’t know before that moment.


And it made me think a lot about when we go on these transformational processes in our lives and often, like we do retreats or we go on personal development weeks or go do some sort of transformational process, then a lot of these processes are challenge based, so they’re like you know you have to go, and the way that your box of beliefs is opened is through challenge, so like you have to survive in the woods for three days like a quest, like thing, or you know, everybody falls apart.


They make you fall apart in some way. You make you do like all this physical activity or mental strife that makes you kind of get to a place of my box of beliefs is now opened because I’ve had this breakdown and I was like, well, why do we have to do it? Challenge based? What if we do it wonder based? Because it’s got the same outcome that your box of beliefs is opened when you’re in a state of wonder, because you’re like in relationship to something that you can’t quite explain, I was like what if we, you know, did that differently? What if personal development was around pleasure and joy rather than challenge, like you know?


I just don’t think we need to do yes, so much better. So that was that’s how that was born. And then I took the experience I had of doing lots of group work and building programs and circle practice, and I work with organizations now. So I do organizational work where I help organizations create good culture through like circle practice, active listening, wonder practices, creative activities, that sort of stuff, and it’s really not that hard. That’s what’s so cool. It’s like you can take a team and just have them together for an afternoon or a day and it completely change them just because they get to be present with each other and really witness each other’s beauty and honor each other and make art together and be in their imagination and cultivate wonder, and so that’s a real joy. I’ve been really loving that aspect of having the creativity to work with groups of people, so I do that. And then for individuals, I also help people create spaces like this. So you can either come and do a program. So we have a few programs. We have one program that’s called wonder and it’s about cultivating wonder and nature and so learning how to be in relationship to the natural world, and that’s just an online program that you can take that gives you weekly invitations to go stock. You know that relational quality and like it’s really magical, like that’s a practice that changed my life. So me and a colleague made a program for that so you can do that. We have online circles that people can join and we do online and in person circle training so people can also learn how to be a circle facilitator or they can come and just experience wonder through moral beauty by sitting in circle and telling stories. So those are a few things that we do. We have a fun.


I did a really fun project in the beginning of the year called 21 Days of Wonder, and it was 21 invitations for people to stock wonder. So I made a video every day the first 21 days of the year and it was really popular. I was like, wow, I think I put it out there as kind of like let’s see what happens. And then I had 500 people sign up for it. That’s awesome. And I didn’t even like it was not, I didn’t try, and I was like, oh, there’s something here, like people are curious about how to you know, welcome more wonder in their life. So we’re going to do something similar in August, but it’s going to be seven days because 21 was a little intense.


Yeah, it’s like, wow, I don’t have a life. I have to make these videos every day. So I’m going to do another one in August called seven days of wonder, and so if you want to sign up, that will be free. So people can sign up for that and just get a daily invitation to stock wonder and all of the kind of neuroscience that comes with that. And I’m really passionate about creating opportunities for people to be more in the driver’s seat like that, to be like, hey, I know my treasure map and I’m painting it, like I’m not waiting for things to happen to me. I’m here to be the painter of that masterpiece and I’m going to cultivate more wonder and more magic in my life and create meaning through deep connection with the world around me and the people around me. So I’m super excited about that.


I’m like what if we could just live in a society where, instead of 2% of people living their lives like that, it would be 95. I mean, everything would fall apart because our system wouldn’t work. But I still, I know I have to build a new system. That’s what I’m excited about. I’m like, well, the system isn’t working. Really, if you’re looking around, you know it’s. We’re in a precarious time in history where whatever we’ve built isn’t really working for us. So we need something new, and the people that are going to build the something new are the people that are wonder stalkers and treasure mappers and poets and alchemists, and you know, wild wonderers, in my opinion.

Ellie GoodeHost01:20:34

Yeah, that’s super cool, Awesome. And so for people who want to say find out more and sign up and check out your work, where can they find out more?

Nele VandersmissenGuest01:20:46

So they can go to the website. It’s wonderglobal, it’s W-O-N-D-R, so no E dot global. And then on the website we have all of the offerings for teams and individuals as well Awesome. And you can sign up to a newsletter. I love writing a wonder letter every month with like different tips in it and podcasts and albums and all the things that gave me wonder, so it’s a fun newsletter, I hope to receive. Sounds cool yeah that’s awesome, awesome.

Ellie GoodeHost01:21:21

Well, yeah, we’ll wrap it up there. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sharing all about magic and wonder. It’s been an incredible chat, yeah, yeah, thank you so much, it’s been a joy. Thank you so much for listening to Sex, money and Rage. Before you go, if you haven’t already, please hit the subscribe or follow button and make sure notifications are ticked and I’ll see you next time.

Leave a Comment