The Power of Awe: How to Find Awe in Everyday Life

  Standing in front of the thousand-year-old tree, we can experience an incredible feeling on the spiritual level. This feeling is the awe, which is always present and evolving in your life, and it is full of mystery.
  Our experience of awe is closely related to the culture we live in and our place in the universe. The experience of awe varies across cultures, but it is also a universal emotion. Dashe Keltner, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, collected stories of awe from 26 countries, from a variety of religious backgrounds, stages of economic development, political structures, and self-aware communities. People in these places wrote about what they thought was vast and mysterious. Keltner’s team spent years translating these stories, then categorized them as different ways of answering the following question: Where do you find awe?
  From this, Keltner concluded that to discover awe, we must seek the “eight wonders of life”: the most common being nature, music, visual design, and moral beauty (when we witness people helping others); Less common but often more profound are “collective elation” (like the feeling of fans cheering wildly together at a football stadium), spiritual experiences (such as spirituality and religion), epiphanies (when we learn something unexpected and change our worldview), and of course the cycle of life and death.
  Awe shows that we are not separate from others, but interdependent. From Mexico to India to Japan and China, the moral beauty of others is the most universal source of awe — belief in the universal goodness, courage, and selflessness of our fellow human beings, and our ability to overcome extraordinary challenges. Simple moments of contemplating the moral beauty of others—thinking of a mentor’s example, a brave man from history, or the kindness of a stranger on the street—can lead to all sorts of benefits, including improved happiness and kinder attitudes and behaviors. Awe embodies a social truth that our identities are always related to larger living systems, whether it be the history of a people, a culture, a social movement, a community, an ecosystem, a political idea, a Musical genre or spiritual lineage.
  In this context, awe can address crises such as excessive self-focus, loneliness, and the cynicism of our time, and even, to some extent, the growing problems of physical health. Today’s mindfulness movements, however well-intentioned, may only further entrench our individualistic views of spiritual and social life, and may unknowingly perpetuate the crisis of the times. It’s time to cultivate a new state of mind in living in the 21st century, a world-facing state of mind that acknowledges our fundamental interdependence and reminds us of the many good things humans can do.
  At a time when our world is more divided than ever and threatened by crises of all kinds, there is a great need for awe. If we open our hearts, awe sharpens our reasoning, moves us toward great ideas and new insights, cools our immune system’s inflammatory response, and strengthens our bodies. Awe can inspire our propensity to share and build strong networks, and to take actions that are beneficial to the natural and social world around us. Awe can change us, inspire the creation of art, music and ideas, and is a powerful force in our lives.
  In fact, awe seems to be taking center stage next. If the pre-pandemic zeitgeist was about “courage” and a “growth mindset,” many of us are now seeking to relax our minds and gain greater peace.
  Perhaps, you’d be mistaken, for most of us, awe is a rare occurrence—but it needn’t be. We can break out of the monotony of everyday life by adopting a new set of eyes, finding awe in everyday things. Seen in this light, we can be in awe not just of the stars, but of the dust that makes up everything on Earth—even the most mundane of objects. As science writer Carl Sagan once quipped: “If you want to make apple pie from scratch, you have to invent the universe.” Isn’t that a great idea?