“At the moment, you are most in awe of all there is about life that you understand, you are closer to understanding it all than any other time.” – Jane Wagner.

During one of the lockdowns during the height of the pandemic, I read an amazing book that recommended getting more awe into your life. So I bought a telescope so that my children and I could stargaze at night, among other things. I wanted to write about awe as it has featured in my work a fair bit since then.

Getting caught up in the never-ending cycle of responsibilities and obligations is easy in our fast-paced and digitally-driven world. We often find ourselves consumed by the mundane, losing touch with the beauty and wonder surrounding us. But what if there was a key to unlocking a world of mental rejuvenation and profound well-being? Enter awe – a timeless and captivating experience that holds the power to transform our minds and nourish our souls.

We open ourselves up to something greater than ourselves when we seek awe. It could be gazing at a mesmerising sunset, standing in awe-inspiring natural landscapes, or even witnessing a remarkable human achievement. These awe-inspiring moments have a remarkable impact on our mental well-being.

Research has shown that seeking awe can bring a multitude of mental benefits. It stimulates our imagination and creativity, igniting a fire of inspiration within us. Awe also has the unique ability to transport us beyond the confines of our thoughts, fostering a sense of interconnectedness with the world around us. This newfound perspective can create a greater sense of purpose and meaning in our lives.

Today, I’m delving into the profound mental benefits that await those who actively seek and experience awe. We’ll explore the scientific evidence behind its effects on our minds, uncover how awe can enhance our overall well-being, and provide practical tips on incorporating awe-inspiring experiences into our daily lives.

1.Improves Mood

Seeking awe has a profound impact on our mood and mental well-being. Something magical happens inside us when we immerse ourselves in awe-inspiring experiences, like witnessing breath-taking landscapes or marvelling at incredible art. Our stress and worries fade away, replaced by a sense of calm and joy.

Awe triggers positive emotions such as wonder and gratitude, lifting our spirits and making us happier. Moreover, seeking awe is a powerful antidote to the monotony and routine of everyday life. It injects a vibrant dose of novelty and excitement, injecting new colours into our emotional palette. The beauty of awe lies in its ability to transport us beyond the confines of our daily worries, offering a temporary sanctuary where joy and serenity take centre stage.

Surprisingly, experiencing awe doesn’t necessarily require a grand adventure to the Grand Canyon. Even watching awe-inspiring slideshows or videos can work wonders for your mood and overall well-being, as revealed by several studies. In fact, in one study, Doctor Summer Allen discovered that reading a brief, awe-evoking story about gazing upon Paris from the pinnacle of the Eiffel Tower led to greater satisfaction than reading a story about observing a plain landscape from a high vantage point. So, you don’t need extravagant travels to reap the benefits of awe. Simply immersing yourself in awe-inspiring narratives or visual experiences can uplift your spirits and enhance your overall contentment.

In other words, we unlock a treasure trove of mental health benefits by actively seeking awe in our lives, whether through exploring natural wonders, engaging with artistic expressions, or embracing moments of human achievement. Our moods become more resilient, and our emotional well-being thrives.

2.Helps Us Think More Critically

Seeking awe doesn’t just make us feel good; it also boosts our critical thinking skills. When we experience awe-inspiring moments, our minds become sharper and more perceptive.

Awe opens our eyes to new perspectives and makes us curious about the world. It helps us think deeply and see connections we might have missed. We become better at recognising patterns and finding innovative solutions to problems.

Studies have shown that awe expands our thinking abilities. It encourages us to challenge our own assumptions and consider different viewpoints. In her study, Michelle Shiota hypothesised that awe makes us more flexible in our thoughts and more willing to explore unfamiliar ideas.

We can improve our critical thinking by seeking awe through nature, art, or captivating stories. We train our minds to question, analyse, and think creatively. This benefits our mental health and helps us navigate life’s challenges with greater clarity and insight.

3.Decreases Materialism

One of the incredible mental health benefits of seeking awe is its ability to diminish materialism. When we immerse ourselves in awe-inspiring experiences, something profound happens, shifting our focus from material possessions to the wonders of the world around us.

Awe has a way of reminding us of the richness and beauty beyond material belongings. It redirects our attention to the intangible aspects of life, such as moments of connection, natural beauty, and acts of human kindness. In the presence of awe, the desire for material things loses its grip on our hearts and minds.

Research has shown that awe encourages a shift in our values and priorities. It fosters a sense of awe in the present moment and an appreciation for the simple joys that cannot be purchased. As we cultivate awe, we place less importance on material possessions and more value on experiences, relationships, and personal growth.

By seeking awe through nature’s wonders, artistic expressions, or inspiring human achievements, we go on a journey encouraging gratitude and contentment. We realise that true fulfilment and happiness lie beyond the accumulation of material wealth.

4.Fosters Humility

Another amazing mental health benefit of seeking awe is its ability to cultivate humility within us. When we immerse ourselves in awe-inspiring experiences, something profound happens deep within us, guiding us towards a humbler perspective.

Awe has a unique way of reminding us of our place in the grand tapestry of existence. It humbles us by revealing the vastness and beauty of the world around us, making us realise how small we are. In the presence of awe, our egos shrink, allowing room for a greater appreciation of the wonders beyond ourselves.

According to scientific studies, awe fosters a sense of humility by shifting our focus from self-centeredness to a broader interconnectedness with the world. It reminds us that we are part of something greater and encourages a sense of awe-inspired reverence for the intricacies of life.

5.Cultivates Generosity

Seeking awe not only uplifts our spirits but also fosters a spirit of generosity within us. When we immerse ourselves in awe-inspiring experiences, something remarkable happens to our hearts and minds, encouraging us to be more giving and compassionate.

Awe opens our eyes to the beauty and interconnectedness of the world. It reminds us of the shared human experience and our collective journey. In the presence of awe, our hearts expand, and we feel a deep sense of gratitude and empathy towards others.

Scientists have discovered that awe promotes prosocial behaviour, including acts of kindness and generosity. When we experience awe, we become more inclined to help others, extend a helping hand, and contribute to the well-being of those around us.

As we embrace the awe-inspiring moments in our lives—whether it’s observing acts of kindness, witnessing displays of bravery, or immersing ourselves in the wonders of nature—we cultivate a spirit of generosity within ourselves. Through these experiences, we deepen our awareness of the needs of others, and our capacity for empathy and compassion expands.

6.Changes Concept of Time

When we seek awe-inspiring experiences, time seems to stretch and expand, granting us a profound sense of spaciousness and abundance. The mental health benefits of seeking awe include having more time.

In the presence of awe, our minds become fully engaged in the present moment. We are captivated by the wonders before us, and our awareness of time’s passing fades into the background. The immersive nature of awe suspends time pressures and invites us to savour each moment with heightened awareness.

Experiencing awe slows down our perception of time. It’s as if the clock’s ticking loses its urgency, and we are fully present in the awe-inspiring experience. In these moments, time feels abundant, and we are gifted with a deeper appreciation of the richness of each passing second.

We tap into a wellspring of expanded time perception by seeking awe in our lives, whether through connecting with nature’s beauty, exploring artistic expressions, or witnessing remarkable human achievements. We find solace in the present moment and cultivate a sense of time affluence.

7.Connects to Other People

Seeking awe has a remarkable ability to foster a deep sense of connection with others. When we immerse ourselves in awe-inspiring experiences, we feel a profound connection to the world and the people who share those experiences.

Awe reminds us of our interconnectedness and shared human experience. It breaks down barriers and unites us in a collective sense of wonder. In the presence of awe, we feel a sense of kinship with others, as if we are all part of something greater.

Awe has also shown to promote social bonding and empathy. It enhances our ability to understand and relate to the emotions and perspectives of others. Experiencing awe together strengthens our social connections and builds a sense of community.

In our quest for awe, we seek out moments that inspire us, whether it’s witnessing acts of kindness, participating in communal celebrations, or immersing ourselves in the beauty of nature. Through these experiences, a deep sense of connection with our fellow human beings is cultivated. We come to realise that we are all on this journey together, and the threads of shared awe weave us closer inextricably.

8.Increases Creativity

Seeking awe holds a magnificent power to unleash our creative potential. When we immerse ourselves in awe-inspiring experiences, our minds become open and receptive to new ideas, sparking the flames of creativity.

Awe expands our thinking, liberating us from the confines of routine and familiarity. It encourages us to see the world through fresh eyes and explore uncharted territories of imagination. In the presence of awe, our minds wander freely, connecting dots we may have never seen before.

The power of awe lies in its ability to enhance our creative thinking. It ignites a spark of innovation within us, urging us to question the status quo and embrace unconventional approaches. By breaking free from the ordinary, awe opens the door to extraordinary possibilities.

As we find ourselves captivated by nature’s grandeur, immersed in exquisite art, or inspired by remarkable human achievements, the pursuit of awe unlocks the doors to our creative reservoirs. In these moments, inspiration cascades in, shaping fresh ideas and imaginative solutions that were previously unexplored.

9.Enhances Sense of Compassion

Seeking awe has a profound impact on our capacity for compassion. When we immerse ourselves in awe-inspiring experiences, our hearts expand with empathy and a deep connection to others.

Awe reminds us of our shared humanity and interconnectedness. It breaks down the walls that separate us and allows us to see the world through a lens of compassion. In the presence of awe, our hearts are touched, and we are moved to care for and support those around us.

The effects of awe on our capacity for empathy and compassion are profound. It awakens us to the challenges and triumphs of others, nurturing a sincere care for their welfare. Through the experience of awe, we gain a deeper understanding of the shared human journey, fostering a genuine desire to alleviate pain and suffering.

When we actively seek awe in our lives, whether it be through witnessing acts of kindness, immersing ourselves in the wonders of nature, or participating in communal celebrations, we nourish our innate capacity for compassion. We begin to recognise the intricate interconnectedness of humanity, and the profound impact our actions can have on the well-being of others.

Final Word

In conclusion, seeking awe is not merely an indulgence in breath-taking moments but a powerful tool for nurturing our mental health and well-being. The benefits of awe are profound and far-reaching, touching various aspects of our lives. It enhances our mood, stimulates creativity, and promotes resilience in facing challenges. Awe deepens our gratitude, compassion, and sense of interconnectedness, fostering stronger relationships and a heightened sense of wonder. Moreover, awe expands our perception of time and cultivates a spirit of generosity and humility. So, let us embrace the power of awe. After all, Matthew Fox once said, “Awe is the beginning of wisdom. Awe is the beginning of education”.


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