Finding awe in the little things we experience in our day can help improve our quality of life.

The awe-full prescription you didn't know you needed

Put yourself in the path of awe

You could get up before dawn and arrive at the Grand Canyon in time for the sunrise.
You could snorkel amidst the tropical fish and colourful corals on the Great Barrier Reef.
You could dine on a Parisian rooftop with views of the Eiffel Tower.

If doing so didn’t fill you with awe and wonder, we’d have to check your pulse to make sure you were still alive.

Sadly, these experiences tend to be once in a lifetime and then you’re back to your own, mundane life; the same run-of-the-mill commute to work, the same grocery shopping, the never-ending need to feed the kids, the bottomless pit of washing that needs sorting… could the secret to a more fulfilling life be in injecting more awe and wonder into your days?

What is awe? 

To be in awe is to experience a moment of admiration that stops you in your tracks; physiologically leaving your mouth gaping, eyes wide, perhaps even your arms rippled with goosebumps. You might be experiencing the wonder of physical beauty, an exceptional display of ability or an outstanding gesture. Nature and people are commonly sources of awe, but we can experience awe in observing a piece of art, reading a poem, admiring architecture or experiencing something mystical.

Why should we seek awe?

Numerous studies have found awe and wonder to:

  • increase happiness,
  • enhance creativity,
  • spark imagination, and
  • deepen our connections with the people and places around us.

The chances are you’ve never thought to seek out awe as a way to enhance your life. In your aforementioned busy schedule, awe and wonder likely don’t even register on the to-do-list. If the above benefits tickle your fancy, you could also add more obscure perks such as improved critical thinking, generosity and humility to the list.

Prescription for wellbeing

If a broader sense of wellbeing is important to you, in the same way that you ‘eat a rainbow’, move your body, meditate and/or spend time with loved ones, it’s time to prescribe yourself a daily dose of awe and wonder and reap the rewards.

Given that ‘real life’ precludes travel and leisure on a daily basis, it can be hard to fathom where to inject moments of wonder into your life, so I’m dedicating this blog to ways that will boost your chances of feeling awe, experiencing wonder and generally increasing your perception of magic/majesty in your every day.

Awe-full mornings

The sky changes slowly from dark and studded with stars to shades of blue and lilac, before warming to golden and pinks. The sun rises everyday – or more accurately – Earth just completed a rotation on its axis and now we’re facing the sun again – how incredible is it to be spinning on a planet in a solar system? Wow!

If there are clouds, notice the way they radiate and reflect the colours. Observe the shapes and sizes. Are they moving? You’re looking at a mass of water droplets floating in the sky that look like cotton wool. How cool is that?

It’s a bit cooler these mornings – notice the dew drops on the grass catching the first rays of light. Glistening jewels all over your lawn.

Dew drop bokeh on lawn in morning light

Breakfast time: Somewhere along the way, some curious human worked out how to make bread rise. They discovered that if you roll oats, flake corn or puff rice, add some fruit and a splash of milk you’ve got a nourishing bowl of cereal. That delicious egg was laid by a chicken. How clever are chickens??

Getting dressed: Your clothes might be made from woven fibres. Maybe shorn from a sheep’s back. Maybe plucked from a cotton plant. Perhaps blended with some synthetic fibres to improve elasticity or wearing. Dyed to just the right colour to compliment your eyes and cut to the just the right shape to flatter your body. Clothes are amazing.

A Wonder-full day

Notice the way the leaves are changing and falling, how they crunch under your feet now, but will grow again in spring.
Notice the curl of the petals.
Notice how tall and strong the buildings are.
The engineering that enables bridges to span rivers.
The pattern the barista made on the top of your coffee.
The person helping the old lady cross the street.
The way that painting makes you feel.
The song on the radio that makes you want to dance – or cry.

Did you know the pocket-sized device you call your phone is millions of times more powerful than the computer that guided Apollo 11 to the moon?

Amazing, awe-inspiring things are all around us, all day long. Chances are you’re so frequently exposed to things worthy of awe that you’ve become accustomed to them (we’ve touched on Habituation in an earlier blog).

Seek awe deliberately

Exposing people to awe-inducing stimuli is currently being explored as a way to increase personal and community wellbeing. Train yourself to notice your natural and built environment, the wonderful people around you, the beautiful things in your home (the art on the walls!). Allow yourself to be impressed by the knowledge and skills others have – even by your own perception and abilities.

If you’re wanting to inject additional awe and wonder into your days, here are some further suggestions to put yourself in the potential path of awe:

  • Order something you’ve never tried before at the restaurant.
  • Wear the skirt that makes you feel incredible.
  • Buy the art that makes you do a double take.
  • Get up early to see the sun rise.
  • Watch a young child explore their surroundings.
  • Try some unexpected songs on your music streaming app.
  • Marvel at a spider’s web.
  • Learn a new concept.

When you do have an encounter with awe, stay with it. Think about it, talk about it, write about it, photograph it. Lingering in the feeling will train you to become better at noticing awe-worthy moments. The muscle memory of observing and revelling in wonder will open you up to more of these experiences in your day-to-day life.

Have an awe-full day.

x Mel

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