Maybe you’ve felt it standing in front of a mesmerizing landspace. Maybe it happens when you think about the vastness of space or glance up at the sky and marvel at a supermoon. The emotion is awe. And it has an important role in strengthening happiness, health and our social interactions.
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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.
An emotion is an objective state that exhibits itself in many ways like behavior, facial expression, heart rate, blood pressure, and stress-hormone levels. Broadly speaking, we know that there are a limited number of discrete human emotions, mainly joy, anger, sadness, fear, love, hate and desire.
New research on human emotions reveals that they are not isolated into fixed slots, but are fluid, subjective, and can take a cue from the way we describe them, altering themselves accordingly.
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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