Recently, I'Ve come across numerous articles about cultivating awe and how the regular practice of experiencing awe positively impacts our overall health and happiness, and deepens our connections with others and our world.
The particular definition of awe that I am referring to is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast, bigger than ourselves, deeply inspiring, and maybe even beyond the grasp of our understanding of the world.
From an evolutionary standpoint, neuroscience suggests "Awe binds us to social collectives and enables us to act in more collaborative ways that enable strong groups, thus improving our odds for survival. Awe embeds the individual self in a social identity." Dacher Keltner Ph.D.
As a father, husband and business owner, I am aware of how engaged our lives have become with technology. On a daily basis, I experience first hand the struggles of pulling my children and myself away from it's grasp, and instead, directing our attention toward more time in nature, and time connecting with one another in meaningful ways. Despite knowing it's important, it's not easy balancing where I focus my energy and the energy of my family.
Until I spent some time really thinking about it, I was inclined to think that awe just showed up. It was just one of those moments that occurred by happenstance, in an unpredictable nature. And that I was just fortunate to notice it when it came my way.
As I've learned more about awe, I've come to take a different approach. Instead of sitting and waiting for it to randomly appear, I've learned to seek out experiences and environments that manifest awe. I can practice placing myself into environments, and putting myself into experiences, that create awe for me.
Since thinking of awe in this way, I've noticed a multitude of possible experiences and environments that personally manifest awe for me. A hike up Jesusita Trail to Inspiration Point. Watching my daughters play sports or run track. An inspiring YouTube Video. A school play. Listening to music. Wind blowing the leaves in the maple tree we planted when my youngest daughter was born. Artwork. The moon and the stars. Dolphins. The family picture books on our coffee table. The first bloom of the roses in my front yard. Harvesting vegetables from our garden. The ocean. Sunset. Sunrise.
I can simply choose to put myself into those places, situations, relationships and activities. I can schedule these experiences into my week, as excursions, events or practices. By myself or with my family. And this will cultivate awe. Which can lead to more curiosity, deeper connections, and improved health and happiness.
It's a win-win-win scenario. More excitement and enthusiasm today. More depth and meaning today, and tomorrow. Improvements in my longevity, happiness, overall health and well-being today, tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow.
Sounds like it's time to go find some awe!