The school bus encounter!
I can never forget the expression of our then 2 year old when she stood next to the big yellow thing for the first time. We just moved into the country and she has only seen the bus from far full of “other children”. For me that defines awe.
Scientific literature defines awe as the feeling of being around something that’s vast or sort of beyond your frame of reference, and then also as something that you can’t understand with your current knowledge structures.
Awe has been defined as a response to things that are perceived as vast and overwhelming and that alter the way you understand the world. This sense of vastness can be physical (e.g., a panoramic view from a mountaintop) or psychological (e.g., a brilliant idea). People may experience awe when they are in the presence of a beautiful natural landscape or work of art, when they watch a moving speech or performance, when they witness an act of great altruism, or when they have a spiritual or religious experience.
Research suggests that awe involves sensing the presence of something greater than the self. Participants who were induced to feel awe, compared with other emotions, felt that they had more time available, were less impatient, were more willing to volunteer their time to help others, preferred experiences over material products, and reported greater life satisfaction. Taking time out to reflect on past experiences of awe can help people break up their routine and challenge themselves to think in new ways. Research suggests that awe has a way of lifting people outside of their usual selves and connecting them with something larger and more significant. This sense of broader connectedness and purpose can help relieve negative moods and improve happiness.
Practices that lead to brief experiences of awe, be it a spiritual practice or nature, have great health benefits, they boost your sense of intellectual curiosity, give you a deeper sense of modesty and humility and enhance your happiness and well being.
18th c Irish philosopher Edmund Burke wrote:
“I have not yet lost a feeling of wonder, and of delight, that the delicate motion should reside in all the things around us, revealing itself only to him who looks for it.”
humor: What is an eagle’s favourite tv show? America’s got talons.