Everyone, at one point or another, needs a break. We all reach that point where our creative juices have gummed together, and all our energy seems tapped. That’s usually a sign that you need to take a well deserved mental health day, but I don’t always have the luxury of taking a step back and regrouping.
Awe is an experience of such perceptual expansion that you need new mental maps to deal with its incomprehensibility.
Recently, I read an article about living in awe, and I’m convinced I need these small moments full of brilliant discovery or joy in my daily life. Researchers studying the effects of awe found that people benefited in some major ways by slowing down and taking more time to appreciate what’s around them.
Participants “who felt awe, relative to other emotions, felt they had more time available, were less impatient, were more willing to volunteer their time to help others, and more strongly preferred experiences over material goods.
There’s no clear cut video to watch, or book to read, that will inspire awe in everyone. The same study as mentioned above found that some topics ranked higher on participants lists than others, including “travel…gazing at the cosmos on a clear night or watching a sensation film, as well as anytime we encounter massive quantities…”
Think back, maybe to a time in your childhood, maybe something that happened yesterday. What sticks out in your memory as something awe-inspiring? For me, the first time I saw the moon through a telescope brought tears to my eyes. It made me feel like, here I was, another person wandering this planet who is partaking of the same awe Galileo must have felt upon looking through his first telescope. Hearing the radioactive tones of the planets is also pretty chilling. Teaching a child something new, bonding with a four legged buddy, or marveling at all the colors in the universe – awe is within our daily reach, but we very rarely stop to smell the proverbial roses (or real ones, if you prefer).
“Not being in a state of awe is a way to save energy. It is easier to run on autopilot. It takes energy to blow your mind, but being overwhelmed is worth it. It’s what gives life its luster.”
Don’t make something that’s hard even more difficult for yourself. Keep a journal of awe-inspiring moments, block time during which you allow your mind to wander. Talk to a coworker about their inspiring moments. Don’t limit yourself. Keep it easy, keep it simple.
Without awe, we simply turn on our coast speed and try to muddle through another work day. I have found this to be absolutely unsatisfactory. Give yourself time to talk to children, go to a park for lunch, or start up a craft or hobby from your childhood. The advice I’m giving myself is: think like a child, act like an adult.
What’s your first awe inspiring memory? How do you find joy in the every day? Share your stories and advice in the comments!