I am the recipient of my mother’s old magazines (I know I’m getting older when…). Lately more and more of the magazines have some sort of article referencing mental health or well-being. In the January copy of Good Housekeeping magazine, they had an article discussing the “Power of Awe.” I found this article really inspiring and it ties in to last week’s post about going outside of the box. I was recently able to find some awe moment of my own on a trip to South Africa. While I was going to write about that this week, it seemed appropriate to hold off for another week and post about the magic of awe.
Awe can be defined as the reaction of the body and mind after having an experience that pushes you to see the world from a different perspective. It is feeling a part of and connected to something bigger than yourself. There are two pieces that define awe. First you feel like you have come across something that has presence in power, size, or intricacy. Second, the experience must shift your world view in some way. Researchers are finding that experiencing awe can have health benefits which makes sense if you think about it. When we are in the presence of something that we think is great we may be calmer, more grounded, happier, and feeling more connected to someone also sharing in the experience. There is also some preliminary research that suggests experiencing awe may reduce inflammation.
So how do we increase our awe moments? Awe can definitely be achieved by traveling; seeing and experiencing new cultures and scenery. It doesn’t have to be limited to big ticket excursions. Searching out small details in everyday life, like watching a family of ants work together or seeing the intricacies in a flower, can illicit awe. Getting off autopilot and making simple changes to our day to day activities can shift our perspective. Even taking a moment to focus on pictures of things you find inspiring can give an awe moment. Everyone will find different things awe inspiring, it is just a matter of finding your niche. If you are having trouble finding your awe moments, take a note from the experts: kids. They are constantly in an awe state as they experience and learn about the world. Take a cue from them to find more of those life shifting moments.