Awe-inducing stimuli

Feelings of awe have historically been recorded when individuals encounter contact with a "higher" power.

In modern times, the main triggers of awe are philosophical ones such as literature, music, paintings, and nature. Examples include natural wonders or events such as childbirth.

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Defining Awe

Awe is an emotional response to being in the presence of something greater than yourself, and that exceeds current knowledge structures.

Awe is a positive emotion and has a broadening effect on our thoughts and actions.

  • Walk in nature whenever you can. Take in the air, the sounds, and the surroundings. Look out for the small things that can captivate your attention.
  • Make the most of every travel experience. Get up early to witness the dawn. Take in the beauty around you.
  • Leave your comfort zone once a day. The effort combined with the novelty of the situation increases the likelihood of being aware of your surroundings.
  • Vastness. It refers to the feeling of something perceived to be much bigger than yourself, which leads to a diminished sense of self.
  • Accommodation. When we experience awe, we have to accommodate what we have just experienced. It can be terrifying when we fail to understand and enlightening when we succeed.

Each of us is the protagonist of our own life. Our goals feel like the most important thing in our world.

But every now and then, a moment of awe challenges our understanding of the world. We feel insignificant yet connected to the whole world, which helps us to step back and gain a better perspective.

  • Individuals experiencing awe are more likely to show generosity, helpfulness, and decreased entitlement.
  • People who experienced awe are more willing to give time by volunteering than people experiencing other emotions.
  • People who experienced awe are more likely to prefer experiences over material goods.
  • Awe has been found to tend to bring people into the present moment.
  • Experiencing awe can increase one’s level of happiness over time and make life feel more satisfying.

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Experiencing Awe for wellbeing

Awe gets us out of our self-centered thoughts and makes us feel small, but in a good way, by making us see ourselves as a small piece of something larger. And feeling small makes us feel humbled (thereby lessening selfish tendencies like entitlement, arrogance, and narcissism). And feeling small and humbled makes us want to engage with others and feel more connected. 

Why scientists say experiencing awe can help you live your best life

nbcnews.com

Emotions

They are basal responses that begin in the subcortical areas of the brain responsible for producing biochemical reactions to environmental stimuli that have a direct impact on our physical state. 

Coded into our DNA, emotions help us respond quickly to threats, like our ‘fight or flight’ response. Also, they can often be measured objectively through physical cues such as blood flow, heart rate, brain activity, facial expressions, and body language.

What are Negative Emotions and How to Control Them?

positivepsychology.com

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.

How to experience more wow | Psyche Guides

psyche.co

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