Awe is more important than you might think, and demands answers to a couple of key questions. What awakens your sense of awe? What makes you aware of the awful absence of it in your life?
There’s not a soul on earth who doesn’t want to live in awe, experience the euphoria of it, have it awakened for the first time, or reawakened after losing it. To be moved to tears is a great gift, but recent studies indicate that over the past 25 years we’ve become an “awe-deprived” society.
Dacher Keltner researches awe, and calls it the “ultimate collective emotion.” A practically impossible-to-describe feeling that lifts us higher than ourselves and makes us want to contribute to a greater good. Keltner shared this finding in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: “Awe helps bind us to others, motivating us to act in collaborative ways that enable strong groups and cohesive communities.”
I love the thought of that and want it to be true in my own life. I want to be susceptible to awe. Easily affected by the simplicity of it in the late afternoon shadows stretching across unusually green grass for late summer in Colorado. Struck by the power of it in the massive waves crashing onto the sands of Cabo San Lucas.
Awe is everywhere, just waiting to affect us, strike us. Wanting to be noticed and enjoyed. It was more natural for us before all this technology. Before life got complicated. Before stuff happened that broke our hearts and we vowed never to let it happen again. Before we figured out how to numb the pain and toughen our hearts.
For fear of feeling the unbearable on one end of the spectrum, many of us forfeited our capacity to feel much of anything on the opposite end. We can change that, though. We were created to live in awe, and awe will pursue its purpose in our lives. It’s insistent. Persistent. Pretty passionate about connecting with us and helping us reconnect with what really matters in life.
So I hope you’ll take a moment to ponder a few more questions, preferably with someone who knows you well enough to know the answers…maybe even better than you do.
- What thrills your soul?
- What robs you of experiencing wonder in your life?
- When do you feel most alive in your skin?
- What are you afraid to feel?
- What do you use to numb what you’re afraid to feel?
- Does it work? Does it last? Is it worth it?
Here’s what I know after years of pondering this stuff. Nothing that leaves us deprived and devoid of awe is worth it. Whatever reconnects us to it is a great gift…worth whatever it takes to find it. And that’s the easy part. It’s everywhere! Just waiting for us to notice….
What’s your awe?