This is a rare experience for most of us, especially in this day and age when most of us will spend the majority of our time sitting in a small room typing.
Our idea of a fun and exciting afternoon will often mean watching something good on TV. It’s hardly inspiring.
And, it’s kind of repetitive.
And that’s why it’s so important that we every now and then do something to really shake up this feeling of inertia.
That’s where ‘awe cultivation’ comes in.
Why It’s So Good for Us
Whenever you feel really great, or really strange, it’s always useful to ask why. What was it that made you feel that way?
Because these feelings are not coincidental: they are always the result of changes in the brain. Very often, these changes will be neurochemical in nature or they will be related to changes in the organization of your brain.
So, what’s actually happening in the brain when you get that feeling of ‘wow’? When you are standing at the top of a mountain and looking down across amazing valleys?
Well essentially, this incredible scene and this huge amount of information is forcing you to change your perspective and to have a real shift in the way you are looking at things.
That change in focus and change in perspective causes you to put your whole life into different perspective.
When we’re faced with the true scale and beauty of nature, we have no option but to acknowledge how comparatively small we are in the grand scheme of things.
From a neuroscience standpoint, this basically forces the brain to restructure itself: to rebuild countless neural networks. And that releases a huge amount of chemicals such as dopamine, BDNF and endorphins.
How to Cultivate Awe
So how do you go about cultivating awe?
Well, one way to do it is simply to get outside more, to explore more, to learn more and to keep expanding your mind.
We can’t spend every day gazing across vast desserts or coming face to face with majestic beasts. But we can inject just a little awe into everything else we do.
And, that can often be enough to make us reassess our place in the world.