Two Aspects of Awe
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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