If you're like me, it's probably been awhile. Kids seem to be awestuck by something, or other, at least once a day; seeing an unusual bug, a colorful leaf, the odd piece of junk. It doesn't take much. Kids can find wonder in comon, everyday objects that adults take for granted. But awe is just as important for adults.
What exactly is awe? Researchers define it as "the feeling we get when we get in the presence of something larger than ourselves that challenges our way of seeing the wolrd; a great work of art, breathtaking vista, a moving speech, the first flowers of spring- these can all evoke awe." Awe makes us feel small, but in a good way; it involves a feeling of interconnectedness with others and with nature. Awe broadens our horizons and, at the same time, shows us our small place in the world.
In addition to giving us a sense of belonging to something greater, scientists have found that awe can offer us both physical and pyschological benefits.
Did you know that the feeling of awe can increase your satisfaction with life? It can. Awe makes time appear to stop, or slow down, too. And awe instills in us a greater desire to help others. Awe has some pretty amazing health benefits, too. It can help lower your risk for heart disease, and increase your positive emotions such as joy, contentment, and amusement. People who experience more awe in their lives, are better able to handle stress.
Researchers have found a some excellent, and easy, ways to help induce a few awe-inspiring moments in your life.
1. Write about a personal experience with awe. Writing about it in detail, helps to awaken those feelings in you again.
2. Take an awe walk. Whether your walk takes you around your neighborhood or city, or if you choose to walk in a more exotic place, taking notice, with fresh eyes, of all the sights, sounds, and smells that surround us can generate awe. It's always there. We just need to see it.
3. Watch an awe-inspiring video. Awe can be found as close as your computer screen. It's only a click, or two, away. The internet allows us to see sights, from all over the world, without ever leaving our home office. Anyone for a quick trip to the Himalayas?
4. Read an awe-inspiring story. The written word can be very powerful. It can be found in both literature and nonfiction. An excellent example is Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time."
Life can often seem lackluster, dull, and boring. But it doesn't need to be. Scientists tell us that even a small dose of awe every day can elevate our spirits and make life more excititing and pleasurable. And awe isn't always comforting. Sometimes it can be scary. Either pleasant, or not, awe helps us cut through the everyday sameness and see things in a new way.
What will you do do/see today to envoke a little awe into your life? Watching your baby learn and grow can be pretty awe-inspring. So can working in your garden, or picking a bouquet of fresh wildflowers for your dinner table. Aw is everywhere. Just look up at the night sky and you'll know what I'm talking about. Find more joy and contentment in your life, starting right now. It's easy to do. All you have to do is look around. I'll bet that your own life is pretty awe-inspiring, just the way it is. I know mine is.