Have you ever worried incessantly about something small and then three months later looked back, wondered why, and thought, what a waste of all that worry? If not, you are lucky! But if you are like me, a worrier, and prone to fixating on smaller things that just don’t warrant all that energy and angst, an awe walk could well come in handy.
One holiday, after a particularly difficult period, I was taking a simple stroll along the beach, and stopped, looked out to sea, and just felt this simple sense of ‘awe’. It was almost as if all my worries melted away as I stared at this space that was greater than me. It wasn’t an emotion I had particularly focused on before. Yes, I remember visiting the Grand Canyon in my twenties and thinking ‘wow’, and the Colosseum in Rome and thinking ‘how’, but I’d not really stopped, absorbed, and pondered on these experiences.
Then recently I read a number of studies researching this fascinating emotion.
Awe can be invoked by things like nature, beauty, man-made wonders, or good will; for some it could be a piece of dance, art or music. Awe is something that can stop us from focusing (or even obsessing) on our personal concerns, by inspiring us and reminding us that we are part of something larger than ourselves.
Dr Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt, pioneers in this area of research, define awe as an emotion “in the upper reaches of pleasure and on the boundary of fear,” and conclude, “Awe can transform people and reorient their lives, goals, and values. Awe-inducing events may be one of the fastest and most powerful methods of personal change and growth.” Further research shows that this experience of vastness expands our perception of time, increases patience, reduces stress levels and in turn leads to increased well-being and life-satisfaction.
Researcher, Melanie Rudd, suggests that people should evoke more feelings of awe in their lives by exposing themselves to nature, art, and music. “Put yourself in situations where you’re experiencing new things,” she says. If you can’t go for an awe walk, you could always create a sense of awe by visualising an awesome scene, re-living a memory, or reading a story. All of these approaches have been proven to have a positive affect. But if you can get out for your ‘awe walk’ please do; and remember to recall that magical sense of wonder.
Have an awe-some (in the true sense of the word) day!
Please click here for further research on Awe.