Albert Einstein once said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science."
This quote highlights the importance of awe, that feeling you get when you are overwhelmed by the beauty of a mountain, the miracle of birth, or a spiritual insight. You know the feeling is a good one, but you don't quite understand it. It’s a feeling that can bring goosebumps, tears, or feelings of euphoria.
Interestingly, awe has increasingly become the subject of scientific research because of its benefits for us on both an individual and group level. For example, research has shown that experiencing awe can have a positive impact on our health; specifically, it's linked with lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. (Sustained high levels of cytokines are associated with poorer health such as depression, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes.)
And when it comes to emotional health, awe is also a natural stress-reliever. It expands our sense of time, and makes us less prone to impatience. Research has also shown that people who experience awe on a regular basis are more inclined to be generous to strangers. In one study, students who had the awe-inspiring experience of spending a short period of time looking up at some majestic trees were more likely to help someone who had a minor accident than other students who had been looking at a building. The researchers argued that awe fills us with a feeling of connection to others.
Given that awe is linked to greater well-being, it’s in all of our best interests to try to experience it on a more regular basis. So, I’ve listed 20 ways to bring more awe in your life. (Do them all mindfully to make the most of your experience!)
Take awe-inspiring actions:
2. Listen to beautiful music.
3. Be part of a crowd at a concert or sporting event.
5. Watch videos or movies, or read books that inspire you.
Consider awe-inspiring facts like these:
6. Our cells “know” how to develop into a full-fledged human being from the union of an egg and sperm.
7. In most instances, our lungs breathe, hearts beat, and brains process information without any effort on our parts.
8. Our body’s natural intelligence helps us to fight off illness and compensate for injuries.
9. Nerve impulses travel to and from the brain at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour.
10. Your body produces 25 million new cells each second.
11. The Earth is spinning at approximately 1,000 mph (but we don’t feel it)!
Think about the awesome abundance around us:
12. Consider the incalculable vastness of the ocean.
13. Ask yourself this question: how much oxygen is in the environment, just waiting for you to breathe it in?
14. Realize that connection is everywhere: 7 billion+ people on the planet you could potentially connect with (and the fact that with the Internet, you could connect with over 40% of them from the comfort of your own home).
15. Put things in perspective: the estimated 8.7 million species on earth, ranging from the smallest microorganism to a blue whale.
Look at life with wonder as if you were a toddler (and don't take anything for granted!):
16. Consider that with the mere flick of a switch you can illuminate a room with light or have the television show of your choice beamed into your home.
17. Take a bubble bath, enjoying the feast for your senses that the warm water and scented suds provide.
18. Dance with abandon and absolute joy in response to a song you love.
19. Revel in feeling the wind blowing through your hair and the exhilaration of motion as you swing on a swing.
20. Reflect on this quote from the poet William Yeats, “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
Set an intention to feel awe every day and see how your experience of life changes.
What fills you with a sense of awe? Share in the comments below.