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The Psychology Of Awe And Wonder

The Psychology Of Awe And Wonder

For centuries, religious scholars and philosophers have tried to find out the meaning of ‘awe’. It is generally defined as a feeling of being aware and present in something that is mystical and vast, and which we don’t fully understand.

Usually, something vast and dramatic can provoke this feeling of awe, making us go wow with the unusual experience. But apart from the size, this feeling involves an attraction, something that makes us want to accommodate or keep the experience with us, due to our changed understanding of the world.

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Awe: Changing Our Mental Models

The feeling of awe or extreme wonder changes our mental models, as we are dumbstruck with the new mind-bending information. It can be accompanied by fear, anxiety and delight.

The person experiencing this feeling often has a memorable, beautiful adventure or encounter, that can alter belief patterns and assumptions.

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The Feeling Of Awe And Our Health

The wonderful feeling of awe has been connected with a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes and depression. Other benefits include increased life satisfaction, better mood, increased humility, and a better understanding of what is essential and what is consumerism.

Awe makes us less focused on ourselves and more connected with humanity, or the collective consciousness. This has tremendous psychological benefits, akin to meditation or states of flow.

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Fostering The Awe Experience

  1. Limit your distractions by turning off your phone notifications or asking your loved ones for some space. You need to witness the world with awareness and clarity.
  2. Treat it like a contemplative exercise, focusing your attention outwards with an open mind.
  3. Don’t worry if you don’t feel anything. Everyone has a different definition of this feeling. You will slowly start to see this feeling of wonder in your everyday life.

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To Witness Moral Beauty And Courage

Observing someone with an incredible amount of skill, talent or abilities and watching how the person is moral and courageous is a good start to feeling awe.

Normally, man lives a sensual life, only for the gratification of their senses. Seeing people do something beyond themselves and for the greater good of society is a wonderful, memorable feeling.

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Awe And Being In Sync With Others

Synchronized movement is a graceful, awe-inspiring experience. Moving together helps in strengthening social bonds and making people more cooperative and generous.

Dancing, exercising, walking, playing music or singing together makes for a shared movement that inspires a feeling of awe.

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Feeling Awe: Get Out In Nature

A simple walk in the forest deepens your thinking, shifts your awareness and fills you with life-giving fresh air. Even a fifteen-minute walk in the park is enough for boosting positive emotions and decreasing daily stress.

An Awe walk happens when we imbibe nature inside us, talking to the living things around us and experiencing the beauty that we never noticed before.

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Feeling Awe: Listening And Creating Music

Singing in a choir, going to a concert where a moving song is being played, or playing an instrument produces the feeling of awe, especially if the song is complex and full of emotion.

Making music together, like a band, creates the feeling as it also involves shared movements.

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Feeling Awe: Visual Art

Visual art, paintings and museums have the power to provoke awe, as do movies which have stunning visuals and never-before-seen elements.

Monuments like the Taj Mahal or sculptures like Michelangelo’s David are unique and have always made people forget themselves, engrossed in the visual and historical details.

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Feeling Awe: A Spiritual Or Religious Experience

Religious gatherings, rituals, prayers and other festivals of faith are profound sources of feelings of awe and wonder.

Religious people feel a great sense of selflessness and remember the events as spiritually meaningful and even life-changing.

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Feeling Awe: That Big Idea

Encountering a big, new idea fills us with its vastness, and we experience ‘cognitive accommodation’ while trying to understand the concept. Ideas found in types of poetry, in quantum physics or the universe can get us to move into discovery and awe.

Even when we see a child understand something and witnessing human development, we are filled with awe.

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Feeling Awe: Witnessing Birth And Death

The beautiful miracle of pregnancy and birth, which shifts towards eventual and inevitable death can be a feeling of awe, even though it is sometimes psychologically complex for many of us.

Life and death are fundamental, and just like the stars, moon, sun and planets, are a source of awe.

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