In our overwhelming, strained and distracting world of today, do you feel awe is missing?
Awe you ask? Well, ahem, we might just need a refresher. Awe is “a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.” Are you saying to yourself, “Oh right, awe! Yeah, I remember that now!” (Like trying to recall the name of the kid who sat behind you in grade 8 math class…it seems like such a long time ago that it takes a while to place it.) Yikes, right?
Some Awesome Insights
(Sorry for the pun…I just had to…)
The authors chose to study older adults because ageing can sometimes be accompanied by social disconnection, anxiety, and sadness. You probably know where this is going; haven’t we all had a heavy dose of this during COVID? What might this study do to help us with the effects of isolation for the common good?
Here is the experience they were trying to create and manifest through the experimental group doing the awe walks and subsequent journaling:
“a positive emotion elicited when in the presence of vast things not immediately understood”
Are you thinking, sign me up for some of that? Yep, me too.
Let’s take an “Awe-walk”
Over a period of 8-weeks, participants took 15-min outdoor walks. The control group was just asked to walk and journal about anything. The experimental group was asked to ground themselves during a nature walk, taking selfies when they were experiencing awe, and then journaling about those moments of awe in vivid detail.
Those who took awe-walks reported greater joy and prosocial positive emotions and less daily stress during and between awe-walks (measured by standardized psychological test). Their smile intensity even increased! (I didn’t even know you could measure such a thing.)
Here’s the catch: once the awe-walks and daily journaling ceased, scores on anxiety, depression, and life satisfaction returned to their baseline.
What can we gather from this? Here’s what we might take from this into our own GREAT lives:
- Get into, back into, and/or stay in any habit that elicits awe such as being in nature
- Be present when in these moments of awe
- Journal, meditate and even deeply think about those moments of awe and what they mean to you
- When someone you know is struggling, encourage them to reintroduce their awe-inducing habit
- Find awe in the vastness of your “ordinary” life
This may seem like an “of course we all know this” stuff article, however, how many of us, when we’re feeling down immediately think, “what is my awe place?” And then prioritize it. Or when someone else struggling, bring them with us to our awe-inspiring place.
There is so much outside of our control; awe-inducing practices are one of those things that are within our control, so why not try it?
Our greatness is present even when circumstances are pushing against us. We are better to feel and experience our greatness with awe on our side.
Check out these other resources to learn more about experiencing greatness all around you: