Remember that ineffable feeling when you look at the mountains or listen to a great opera? Researchers call that feeling awe-inspiring.
Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, founder of the Greater Good Center.
I define awe as being close to something huge and mysterious, something you can't quite understand.
Why it's important to experience awe as often as possible
Awe improves our lives in several ways.
It changes the way we see the world.
American scientists have found that trepidation positively affects our perception of the world and the way we make decisions. It can change the way we see time, widening and filling it so that we don't have to think about the past or the future, but about the here and now.
Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto.
People have noted that feeling awe becomes a very profound experience for them. Awe helps people look at the world differently. I think that's very valuable.
It improves physical health.
Scientists have found that feeling awe lowers pro-inflammatory cytokines. These protective molecules are released when a person gets sick. But if there are a lot of them all the time, serious health problems can begin: the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression increases.
It has a positive effect on mental well-being
Dutch scientists showed people slides that take your breath away and closely monitored the condition of the subjects. As a result, it turned out that the thrill felt by the participants of the experiment significantly improves their mood.
In addition, awe increases life satisfaction and helps us to be skeptical of weak opinions and arguments.
It makes us more social.
Studies have shown that people who are in awe are more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior, that is, a willingness to do good to others and to society as a whole.
Not only does awe shift our attention to those around us, but it also helps us feel connected to them. It creates a kind of bridge between what Keltner calls the "habitual self" (our desires to achieve goals, raise our status, and improve our lives) and our inner need to be part of society and help others.
How to add more excitement to life
When every day is filled with work stresses and household chores, a sense of awe seems like an unattainable luxury. Fortunately, that's not the case. Awe can be experienced whenever and wherever, if you use a few proven ways. Daker Keltner gives eight tips.
1. Notice the inner beauty of those around you
The moral beauty and courage of others, as well as their talents and unique abilities, can be awe-inspiring.
We often think that only fundamental things--natural phenomena or spiritual practices--should take our breath away. But in fact, other people's stories and destinies can affect us just as much. We've found that 50 to 60 percent of inspiring experiences occur when we're struck by those around us.
2. Synchronize with those around you
Keltner emphasizes that it not only helps you feel a sense of awe, but it also strengthens social bonds and evokes a sense of oneness with those around you. A recent study found that people become more generous and cooperative after moving in unison with others (such as while dancing, choral singing or even walking foot in foot).
3. Spend more time in nature
Make it a habit to go for at least 15-minute walks to the nearest park every week.
One study by a psychologist and his colleagues confirmed that such walks increase the amount of positive emotions. Experts of scientific center Keltner even formulated several rules of a successful walk: it is necessary not to be distracted by the phone, to count to six with each breath in and out, and concentrate now on breathing, then on the surrounding sounds and sights.
Look at the patterns on the trees and leaves, breathe in the fresh air, and think about the infinity of space around you.
4. Listen to or create music
Remember the feeling of pleasant goosebumps all over your body when you listen to a solemn symphony, sing a moving song, or play a beautiful melody on a musical instrument? Music is one of the most universal sources of that most elusive feeling when you get a thrill.
You can not only listen or play, but also try to compose your own music. And if you gather a small group or become a member of a choir, synchronizing with those around you will definitely help you feel a pleasant thrill.
5. Enjoy art
Unusual conceptual exhibitions, art house films, classic sculpture - the grandeur and beauty of art can easily take your breath away.
Aesthetic images also evoke pleasurable feelings. For example, participants in one study felt a sense of awe when they watched a slow-motion video of colored water droplets falling beautifully into a bowl of milk.
6. Don't forget the spiritual experience