According to research, experiencing that sense of wonder referred to as awe is good for your health. How does awe boost your health and how can we get more awe in our lives?
Sunrise Image by Marie Vonow
How does awe boost your health? A study carried out in 2012 by American researchers showed when a person experienced awe his/her level of interleukin-6 dropped. Interleukin-6 is a molecule that promotes inflammation in the body. The more often someone feels awe, the lower their level of this molecule.
When we feel awe, we stop what we are doing and really look. We are 'in the moment'. Time stands still. We probably breathe deeper and more slowly. For a time nothing else matters but what we are experiencing.
Studies say when someone feels awe they are less stressed and feel more positive. A sense of wonder can help lessen some symptoms of Anxiety or Depression.
What sorts of situations bring awe into people's lives? Nature is one of the main sources of awe. Many aspects of Nature can make one stop and go, 'Wow! Look at that!' Some examples are -
sun rising over the hills
sun setting over the ocean
moon rising, perhaps on a dusty evening so it looks pink or an apricot colour. I recall this experience on a hot evening back in January 1973 when my mother and I were on a ship leaving Port Melbourne, heading for Davenport. The fact I remember how I felt all these years later shows the awe I felt at the time.
star lit sky on a clear night. It makes one feel so small in comparison to the size of the universe. Suddenly your problems feel smaller too.
beach scenery, especially when combined with a sunrise or sunset
autumn leaves with the sun shining through them
beautiful flowers, perhaps a mass of flowers stretching as far as the eye can see
Photographs and beautiful artwork can also be awe inspiring. An internet search showed amazing photos including -
a tree covered in about 40,000 lights
an oasis in the Gobi Desert
tree reflected in a lake
an 'ocean' of yellow flowers in China
droplets of water on a flower
Different styles of artwork are shown on the internet as awe inspiring. What makes one person experience a sense of awe will not necessarily have the same effect on others.
Some music, perhaps an orchestral piece, can make people feel a sense of awe. Attending a live concert can be a great way to experience the awe inspiring power of great music. Sharing the experience with others who share your taste can sharpen the feeling of awe.
Holding a newborn baby can fill a person with awe. How tiny he/she is. Look at her tiny fingers and toes. The miracle of birth fills us with awe.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
How can we get more awe into our lives? Ways to increase the sense of wonder in our lives include -
spend more time in natural environments
watch sunrises and sunsets
go to live concerts
take time to really look at our favourite pieces in an art gallery
do an internet search for photos that take our breath away
close our eyes and lose ourselves in music we find awe inspiring
share awe inspiring experiences with like minded people
Sometimes we can feel too stressed and busy to look for awe inspiring moments in our daily lives. These are the very times we would benefit most from a dose of awe.