Open your eyes and see awe
Here's hoping that you discover something awesome in this edition of the 5-Minute Recharge. 🧠 Your brain loves awe
Random autumn grapes. A photo taken on a recent awe walk to admire the fall foliage in Inglewood, Ontario. 💡The big idea: Experiencing awe boosts your wellbeing in ways that no other positive emotion does, and it’s freely available everywhere, if you’re open to it. What is awe? An expert in awe, University of California, Berkeley professor of psychology Dacher Keltner defines awe as “an emotional response to something vast that is beyond current understanding.” Vastness isn’t just physical size, like a towering redwood or a stunning sunset, but can be the extreme social size of fame, a work of art, an athletic feat, or people joining together in large numbers for a common cause...or a Lady Gaga concert!
How does awe work? The leading theory of awe relates to the ‘small self.’ Awe shrinks our sense of who we are in an exhilarating way, and makes the world outside ourselves, including other people, seem larger and more important. Ironically, although we often experience awe alone, it brings us closer to others, breaking down “us” versus “them” thinking. “On all the major checkboxes of what’s good for you, awe does a pretty good job,” says Dacher Keltner. Experiencing awe has these benefits:
expands your sense of time and makes you more patient
increases prosocial (i.e. nice) behavior such as generosity and cooperation
makes you more humble
decreases stress and anxiety
sharpens the mind by helping you think more critically and scientifically
decreases inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression (it’s the only positive emotion known to do this)
reduces the number of reruns of unpleasant thoughts (a.k.a. rumination)
increases life satisfaction and happiness
🚪Keltner’s 8 Doors to Awe 🤸♂️ 1. Observe other people. We tend to think of awe as something experienced in the natural world, but 50 to 60 percent of awe comes from other people. Acts of courage, displays of generosity—thank you Mackenzie Scott for your awesome $84.5 million donation to the Girl Scouts!—and athletic, artistic or intellectual talent are rich sources of awe. This young talent is awesome. 👯♀️👯♀️👯♀️ 2. Move together with others. Dancing, playing music, exercising, cheering at a sporting event, marching together in a common cause, all forms of synchronized movement can be awesome. 🌳 3. Get out in nature. It doesn’t have to be the Grand Canyon. You can find awe anywhere in the natural world. 🎶 4. Listen to or create music. Beautiful or complex music is most likely to produce awe. Hallelujah. 🖼 5. Take in visual art or film. Art galleries or museums can be awesome, as can movies with great cinematography or transcendent acting. 🛐 6. Seek out spiritual or religious experiences. In the first two thousand years of thinking and writing about awe, it was considered a transformative religious experience. You can experience awe today in a place of worship, at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, or anywhere people gather together in a shared belief in transformation. 🤔 7. Think about a big idea. Cryptocurrency anyone? 8. Witness the beginning or the end of life. Bottom line: Awe is a profound experience that’s waiting right outside your door…or even inside if you look at your surroundings like a museum. Do It Now: Go for an awe walk and take a photo of something awesome. (You can find awe walk instructions here.) Get charged up on awe with The Guardian’s “How Getting More Awe Can Improve Your Life and Even Make You a Nicer Person.” 🚨 Recharge Your Wellbeing With These: 👿 As the essayist Joseph Epstein has written, “Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all.”
🪂 Dr. Laurie Santos asks: is YOLO (you only live once) a good motto for a happy life? 😩 Should you break up with worry? The science says it’s an unhelpful friend, and shoddy fortune teller. ☠️ Harvard Business Review tells us how to recover from a toxic job. 🛒 ”In the great halls of Costco our greatest fears are assuaged—that of not having enough and that of not being enough.” Yuxi Lin shows how it is possible to find awe at Costco. . The Recharge Quote of the Week comes to us courtesy of the British Bake Off, revealing how awe sometimes has an ingredient of fear.