The Awesomeness of Awe

Photo Credit: Linda M. Neas (c) 2015

When was the last time you were awestruck?  Do you remember when you were filled with wonder and awe?  Did you know that awe and well being are directly related to each other? 

In a Psychology Today article I read, Dr. Andy Tix writes, "Psychological scientists only recently have started to study awe, an emotional experience in which individuals are overwhelmed by vastness or greatness to the point that they need to alter how they understand the world. Studies are beginning to reveal, however, several significant effects of awe. For instance, awe appears to enhance individuals’ feelings of belonging, time availability, generosity, spirituality, and humility. Physical health also seems better when individuals feel more awe. People even are more likely to help someone in need after an awe experience." 

Dr. Tix then discusses how life often keeps us from awesomeness. He recognizes the fact that laundry has to be done, bills paid and homes cleaned. But, he gives concrete examples of how to bring awe back into our busy lives.  

His suggestions on how to bring awe back into our lives reminds me of the poem I had hanging in my daughters' room so many years ago by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton, "Song for a Fifth Child," which in the final stanza states: "Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow, /But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow./ So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep. /I'm rocking my baby. Babies don't keep."

As a young mother, I remember the days when life had me running in circles trying to get everything done. I was exhausted! But, what brought me joy, helped keep me sane and kept me from collapsing were those moments I took to stop the car to watch the sunset with my girls, or those golden summer days we spent observing the dwellers of tide pools on the beach.  

Holding my newest grandchild, I physically felt the power of awe.  I had arrived at the hospital exhausted from driving 2.5 hours to my oldest daughter's home. However, the moment she passed her son to me, something happened.  As I settled in the rocking chair with this new life, so fresh from Creator in my arms, I was filled with such wonder, such awe that I was energized.  Joy filled every pore, every cell in my body.  

My suggestion, as well as Dr. Tix's, is to find moments such as these in your life.  Open your mind and heart to the wonders around you - the sunset, the song of birds, the wonder of a snowfall - then, sit in awe with what you found. 

May we all find wonder in this day and in the days ahead so that we will come to know the awesomeness of awe, allowing it to feed our minds and spirits and bodies.



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