One Emotion You Need to Feel Right NowApr 14, 2020
Some months ago, we spent a long weekend away with friends in Rotorua (obviously pre COVID19) – the quintessential destination for a family holiday in New Zealand. We partook in quite a few touristy things but one thing that was an unexpected standout for me was walking through the canopy of the redwood forest at night.
As I walked for 30 minutes across suspended bridges in the darkness surrounded by magical hanging light installations and 100-year-old redwoods, I was overcome with emotion. The only thing I could think was that I felt like I was a kid again. It was a combination of wonder, excitement of the unknown and being completely lost in the moment.
It wasn’t until later that I could articulate the emotion I was feeling – awe. Probably one of the most underrated but positive emotions one can experience.
It has only been over the last 15 years that awe has come to the attention of scientists and researchers.
According to Psychology Today, awe is that feeling you get when confronted with something vast that transcends normality, and that you struggle to fully understand. The dictionary describes it as a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.
Awe expert, Dacher Keltner, claims that awe triggers the effect that you are small but not in a way that diminishes your existence or self-esteem, rather it gives you a sense that there is something much larger than yourself. This can help put things in perspective and improve our mental wellbeing.
You cannot put a monetary value on awe.
It is something we might feel when we stand in front of a wonder of the world (the Grand Canyon or the Taj Mahal) when we lie beneath the stars on a clear night or perhaps in a spiritual or sacred experience.
A couple of weeks ago a friend sent me a piece of music composed by Pentatonix using 8D technology. I was told it would be the first time I would listen to music with my brain and with my ears and that I would feel the music from the outside and not from the headphones. So I tried it and instantly I felt the emotion of awe.
You MUST try this for me. I invite you to try this experience; you must wear earphones for it to work (one in each ear):
- Find somewhere quiet
- Put your earphones in and play THIS TRACK, or if you like it a bit more upbeat try THIS TRACK
- Close your eyes
- Sit and think about the world right now and just feel the music
I would love to know what you thought of it!
Why you want to feel awe in your life (especially during Corona Virus):
- Improved Physical Health
Connecting with feelings of awe can help you improve immunity (important in the current environment) and reduce inflammation in the body.
Research done by the University of California Berkeley has shown that experiencing the emotion of awe can lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The purpose of these are proteins is to send cells to fight trauma, infection and disease. However sustained and elevated cytokine levels can lead to poorer health and such disorders as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and even Alzheimer’s disease and clinical depression.
- Reduces Anxiety
When you feel anxiety, you can often feel overwhelmed by your thoughts. Rumination and worry can increase feelings of both anxiety and depression. According to researchers, awe is the opposite of rumination. Awe bolsters positive emotions and alters our subjective experience of time. When you are in awe of something, you are often acutely aware of the present moment, you often feel great admiration and wonder for something bigger than yourself, thus reducing feelings of anxiety.
- Better Connections
As mentioned above, feelings of awe make us feel smaller and in turn more humble humans. A 2018 study by Stellar and Gordon found that those who experience more awe are also seen to have more humility from their friends. When we have more humility, we demonstrate less selfish inclinations, arrogance or narcissism. These feelings of awe, which lead to greater humility, make us want to engage and connect more with others and maintain social harmony.
- Critical Thinking
Researchers at Arizona State University have discovered a link between awe and improved critical thinking. “The emotion we call awe may reflect a basic need to understand the world in which we live” explains Michelle Lani Shiota, a researcher at ASU.
Other research from the University of San Francisco suggests that more awe-prone people are more curious. This awe-curiosity combination may improve academic achievement in school children (as it has been linked to higher self-efficacy, work ethic, and academic performance).
How to feel more awe:
One of the simplest ways to experience more awe is to gravitate towards things that create feelings of inspiration and wonder. Here are a few ideas:
- Spend time in nature, visit national parks or places with beautiful vistas
- Look at stars, watch sunsets, sunrises and look at the moon.
- Go to galleries and look at art that inspires you (you can do this online at many galleries during the lockdown)
- Listen to music that moves you (many great composers are live-streaming their concerts right now). Try my 8D music above.
- Travel – seeing and experiencing new places can inspire feelings of awe (this may have to be domestic for a while)
- Write about experiences that fill you with wonder or inspiration, this reconnects you with feelings of awe.
- Watch a movie or video that inspires awe. Planet earth or national geography has plenty of options. HERE is one that can inspire feelings of awe.
I would love to hear about what makes you feel the emotion of awe?
I always love hearing from you!
Did you know that you don’t have to do this on your own?
In this uncertain time, it can be challenging to navigate the range of thoughts and feelings that arise. Whether you are struggling with your mindset or feeling like this is the time for you to pivot into a new chapter of life I am here to support you.
I am offering a FREE 30-minute private introductory coaching session (online – this is how I always coach) so I can support you to move forward with greater clarity and accountability.