‘Muuuuuuum, can we get a puppy?’
This phrase is repeated most days in our household, more so since I had the pleasure of puppy-sitting my favourite non-human Lord Archie Archibald of Keizer! For those unaware, Archie (Sally’s gorgeous 12-week old black Labrador) has recently become the Happynesshub’s newest member and the apple of our eyes. Living with Archie, albeit just 2 days, has taught me so much. Brimming with joy, curiosity and boundless excitement, Archie is in awe of nearly everything.
Watching Archie excitedly circle the kitchen chasing a mop more times than I could count, I thought to myself how amazing the world seemed through a puppy’s eyes. Fun-loving and curious, Archie’s world seemed brighter. If you’ve ever spent time with a puppy, you’ll know that there’s something endearing about their raw and authentic childlike happiness. How could I live my life in awe the way Archie did? In a world where we are conditioned to strive for ‘bigger and better’, I felt as though I’d become desensitized to the simplest and smallest of awe-inspiring moments. But no longer, in that moment I was determined to harness my inner puppy and re-learn to see the world through Archie-tinted glasses.
There is a wealth of research of the benefits of living your life in awe. According to Dr Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt, experts in this field, “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.” Furthermore, studies have shown that experiencing awe on a regular basis has the potential to increase patience, reduce stress levels and consequently contribute to increased wellbeing and life-satisfaction.
Reading Keltner and Haidt’s research made a lot of sense to me, but what were the practical steps I could take to work towards living in awe like Archie? Researcher, Melanie Rudd from Stanford University, suggests that we have the capacity to evoke positive feelings of awe in our lives by exposing ourselves to simple pleasures such as nature, art or music. Living in awe isn’t about indulging in lavish experiences, instead, awe is an emotion we feel once we “alter how we understand the world” and learn to appreciate what we have right in front of us.
Knowing this has certainly made living in awe a much more attainable goal. From now on, I’m going to make a concerted effort to look inwards for my inner Archie and feel inspired and curious about the little things in life. While I’m not sure chasing a mop will ever appeal to me, I am going to try and take heed some of the research I’ve read and enjoy this great weather while I can by going on an awe walk. For those new to the Happynesshub, ‘taking an awe walk’ is a tool we use to help us appreciate the world around us. If like me you want to gain a little Archie spirit, why not try it? To help you on your way to having an awe-some walk, I’ve included a few easy steps from Greater Good in Action, a science-based organisation that seeks to promote a happy and meaningful life.
- Take a deep breath in. Count to six as you inhale and six as you exhale. Feel the air move through your nasal passages and hear the sound of your breath. Come back to this breath throughout the walk.
- As you start to walk, feel your feet on the ground and listen to the surrounding sounds.
- Shift your awareness now so that you are open to what is around you, to things that are vast, unexpected, things that surprise and delight.
- Take another deep breath in. Again, count to six as you inhale and six as you exhale.
- Let your attention be open in exploration for what inspires awe in you. Is it a wide landscape? The small patterns of light and shadow? Let your attention move from the vast to the small.
- Continue your walk, and every so often, bring your attention back to your breath. Count to six as you inhale and six as you exhale. Notice—really notice – the multitude of sights, sounds, smells, and other sensations that are dancing through your awareness, usually undetected.
Having started to go on awe walks myself, I can honestly say that I slowly but surely feel my inner Archie emerging. I’m not quite on the level of an excited puppy, but since working on my capacity to feel awe as emotion, life certainly seems to have a new vibrancy. And so to you Hubbers, I urge you to all do the same – find the Archie within and start to live the awe-inspired life you deserve.