Raise your hand if you are one of those people who use awesome incessantly to describe a thing, situation, person, food item, dress, place, picture, TV show, song, plant, book, day, season, weather phenomenon etc. etc. Wow that list just goes on and on and on! Don’t worry if you’re guilty. I myself am suffering from this disease called awesome-nia and have trivialised and overused awesome to the point of normalcy. Anyway, while we may continue to exaggerate how we sometimes feel, and inadvertently rob poor awesome of its magic, the actual feeling of awe is something truly awesome because of the advantages it offers. Please ignore my overuse of awesome in the above sentences and read on to find more about the benefits of awe and why we should all be searching for awe in the ordinary to make our lives a little bit better.
Awe is a remarkable feeling. In addition to goosebumps and dropped jaws, it can offer some wonderful hidden benefits. Climbing the tallest mountain or swimming in the deepest ocean would undoubtedly be awesome, but it is important to understand that one does not necessarily need to go somewhere or engage in these or similar activities to experience awe. Needless to say, real-world experiences fair better but some research suggests that even slide shows of beautiful places can instill the feeling of awe. Spending time in nature or witnessing something new or maybe even something old but with a new perspective can be wonderful sources of awe.
As far as the advantages of awe are concerned, they range from the understandably obvious ones like raising happiness levels and reducing stress to the hidden gems like mental and physical well-being, promoting critical thinking and decreasing materialism. Then there’s also the greater benefits of awe such as reducing our perception of ourselves and our self-significance, triggering a sense of humility in us while also enlarging our perception of time that prevents us from feeling time-starved all the time. This diminishing sense of self and expanding sense of available time can help bring more generosity in our lives, not only in terms of money but also in terms of time. Awe also offers the profound benefit of feeling one with our surroundings, with the community, and even with the universe, bringing us to the important realization that we are not at the centre of it!
Whether it’s counting stars in the night sky or watching new leaves unfurl, awe is everywhere. For me personally, going to new places, experiencing new things and learning new stuff are wonderful sources of awe. At present I am also in awe of spring! Yes, the season. It is just another usual thing we experience every year and just one of the four seasons, so sounds quite ordinary, right? Well, not for me. In fact it is that springy feeling of awe that makes my ususal evening walks and weekend runs much longer than planned. The season is so awe-inspiring that it deserves it’s own post, which I am in the process of writing parallely (I just hope that I will complete it and post it while the season still lasts ;)). Another source of awe for me is learning new things, for example, recently learning how to ski (which involved a lot of falling too) or coming across new words in German and realising that English or Hindi don’t have a word for it. I agree these can be termed as fascination too, but I gave it a second thought and must admit that there are shades of awe in learning new stuff, because such things make me stop and ponder. Then there’s my bread and butter – space and satellites, which are obviously part of my daily routine life but notably fill me with awe when I sit and think about what I do.
I hope that the long list of benefits encourages you to search for awe in the ordinary as well.
Please feel free to share your awesome thoughts. 😊