The Effect on You & the World

For those of you who would like to learn a bit more about the effect that a moment of awe has in your life and the society in general, keep reading, because I will gather here some pieces of science studies explaining this phenomenon.

Scientific research behind the ‘awe moments’

Research from the Stanford Graduate School of Business found recently that moments of awe can change perceptions about Time. “Experiencing something awe-inspiring can expand perceptions of time, enhancing quality of life.

The key appears to be that such moments make us feel small, and when we feel small there’s a reapportioning of what’s out there. That is, Time is reapportioned as well.

When you feel awe, you feel very present — it captivates you in the current moment,” said one of the researchers. “And when you are so focused on the here and now, the present moment is expanded — and time along with it.

[Awe] is more of a mindset than we think,” said another one of the researchers. “This research suggests you can cultivate it in similar ways, as you do gratefulness or happiness. Yet, when it is present, awe can transform people and reorient their lives, goals, and values.

awe-moment: person on top of mountainThis study defines awe as: “something that is both vast (in size, scope, number, ability, or importance) and capable of altering one’s view of the world.

As Dacher Keltner, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of California (Berkeley) suggests in his book Born to Be Good, the more nuanced sensations such as compassion, forgiveness, humility, and awe are what push us beyond self-interest and “wire us for good.” According to him, cultivating awe is part of unlocking the truest sense of life’s purpose.

In Keltner’s words, awe shifts a person’s thinking “toward the collective”, which in my opinion can be used as a trigger to improve our communities, society and the world in general. Experiencing a ‘wow’ moment, makes you feel ‘there’s something bigger than me.’

Keltner and his team are attempting to figure out where awe originates in the brain. Their preliminary findings suggest that awe lights up the region that becomes active when we are touched, or when a mother sees pictures of her baby. Unlike the “me, me, me” response that most types of pleasure trigger, awe—and its associated increase in oxytocin—makes us feel warm and fuzzy toward others.

Another researcher, Jonathan Haidt, PhD associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, says that awe can also be prompted by witnessing acts of great generosity or humanity. This triggers the release of the bonding hormone oxytocin. “In these cases, awe sends the signal to move closer, and that clears the way for altruism, generosity, and acts of kindness,” he says.

Michelle Shiota, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Arizona State University, says that channeling awe “can help a person reflect on how an upsetting event fits into their philosophy of life, or how their personal experience unites them with humanity.

New findings published in Psychological Science, suggest that awe-inspiring sights increase our motivation to make sense of the world around us, and may underlie a trigger of belief in the supernatural or in God.

Psychological scientist Piercarlo Valdesolo of Claremont McKenna College showed that “it’s not that the presence of the supernatural elicits awe, it’s that awe elicits the perception of the presence of the supernatural,” and that participants who watched awe-inspiring scenes became increasingly intolerant of uncertainty.

As you can see, there are lots of reasons to open up to perceiving awe-inspiring moments, and the more we practice the easier it will be to become aware of them (they happen all the time but we don’t appreciate them)

One thing I haven’t found in those research studies is that the ‘awe-feeling’ is relative, very personal. You can be amazed by something that I barely noticed. That’s why I opened this platform to anyone who wants to share his/her awe-moments with the rest of us. This is a place for non-judgemental sharing. Let’s all inspire each other.

How much different would be the world if we spent more time with inspiring things instead of the usual negative media messages, programs and news?

If you want to start to put this into practice, watch a sunset while listening to the music below and you’ll feel the awesomeness of life and will have the feeling that you have all the time in the world.