“We have the responsibility to awe.”
– Rebecca Elson 1960-1999
What places or things from your past spring to mind when you think of moments of peak experiences that left you in awe?
You could be communing with nature, or riding in a car like I was one vacation when we rounded a bend in the road.
Suddenly out of nowhere Mt. Rushmore appeared. I swear I almost lost it.
I was in a state of awe!
What I love most remembering this mind-blowing experience still today is that it takes me back to the exact feeling I felt at that very moment, and I relive it.
I suspect I must have taken a mental snapshot of those presidential faces chiseled into that mountain, and anchored them securely to be enjoyed many times over.
And you can do this too!
Here’s another awe-inspiring moment from my past. Me and a companion went to the Grand Canyon.
I was not only in awe of the vast majesty of the canyon itself, but also the audacity with which I sat on a ledge above the canyon, and allowed my picture to be taken.
I appear to be smiling, but I was also shaking in my boots…literally!
Wouldn’t you agree that some days we need encounters like these to rock our worlds? Can you flashback to an awe-struck experience from your life?
Now..I’ve realized that some peak experiences can be “other-worldly” in a once-in-a-lifetime way…
but there are also everyday peak experiences that are equally amazing and available to each of us if we have our antennas up and focused on the sense of wonder and awe that is everywhere.
Since not every moment can really be peak, you can relax and look forward to the ones that are truly special.
You may even find something that puts you in awe right now in your own backyard.
These moments are up to you. It’s not necessary to manufacture them, just allow them to happen.
A Psychologist named Paul Piff and colleagues summed up their findings on the importance of awe in a report that reads:
“Awe arises in fleeting experiences. Looking up at the starry expanse of the night sky. Gazing out across the blue vastness of the ocean. Feeling amazed at the birth and development of a child. Protesting at a political rally or watching a favorite sports team live. Many of the experiences people cherish most are triggers of the emotion we’re focusing on here—AWE!“
Awe is one of those quiet positive emotions we get when we come across something so strikingly vast in number, scope, or complexity that it alters the way we understand the world.
In other words, awe is kind of mind-bending, and it alters how a person perceives the world in subtle but meaningful ways. It can, for instance, make time seem to slow down.
It is also believed that awe occurs when we give ourselves the opportunity to expand our knowledge of the world. When it happens, it turns our attention outwards, instead of towards the self.
Melanie Rudd, an assistant professor at the University of Houston says:
“We actually experience awe a lot more frequently than we think. We encounter something in the big wide world, our minds open as we look for an explanation, and as a result we open up to connecting to other people. But if you are keeping yourself in your routine of life, it’s going to be hard to experience that feeling of accommodation Just going out into newness, you’re going to be more likely to run into something that’s awe-inspiring.”
Once you find sources of inspiration and awe, connect to them regularly. Be surprised! Expose yourself to something truly awesome. Then in that awe-struck moment, you may find yourself feeling a sense of timelessness.
Your awe moment might be big or small, natural or man-made, but it stops you cold—while other positive emotions arouse the body, people feeling awe are very still—and makes you re-evaluate what you actually know.
I hope you will watch for, and remember similar moments in which you feel your soul soar, and the feeling of contentment that envelops you. Be present in the moment, recognize it and revel in it. These are the moments that will sustain you through the hard times that we inevitably face.
Here’s wishing you many peak experiences throughout your whole life!
How has your sense of awe:
- boosted your quality of life?
- helped you to become more creative?
- given you hope, even in your darkest hour?
- spiritually or religiously transformed you in some way?
- brought you back to the present moment?
- given you the sense that you have a lot more time?