We experience awe when when we’re overwhelmed by emotion. Usually, this is a positive experience that’s triggered by something so grand and powerful, we can’t even begin to comprehend it with our minds.
According to a study from the University of California, Irvine, experiencing awe helps us dial down our egos and shift our perspective to a larger and more collective point of view. We essentially become motivated to do things that are bigger than ourselves, which naturally encourages us to become more kind and generous toward other people.
The experience of awe, as you might have already guessed, is a good thing for all of us — and one of the easiest way to experience more of it is by tuning in to nature. Becoming more aware of the natural world that surrounds us can give us that beautiful sensation of smallness in a Universe of vastness.
This summer, start paying attention to the various sights, sounds, smells, and feelings that trigger your senses. Learn to appreciate them for what they are, and you might just be awe-inspired by them.
Something as simple as placing your awareness on the different shades of green that appear on the leaves of a tree as the sunlight shines through them can inspire awe. Common wildlife species like birds and squirrels surround us all the time — even in big cities — yet we never take the time to really acknowledge how amazing these little critters really are. Ask yourself, what other amazing creations of nature are you forgetting notice every day?
While it may be worth getting away from urban areas with lots of traffic and noise, it’s easy enough to get out to a park to notice the rustling of the trees through the wind or the birds chirping happily as the sun sets. You could even crack open a window on a rainy day to listen to the raindrops hit the ground, or sit quietly and tune into the thunder that rumbles across the sky during a thunderstorm.
Smell is the sense that’s most strongly tied to memory, which can often inspire a nostalgic feeling of awe. Catching a whiff of a bonfire may trigger beloved memories of camping trips when you were a kid, or the scent of lake water could take you back in time to a specific vacation spot that you remember and cherish from years ago.
The warmth of the sun wrapping your entire body in heat or the gentle push of the current on your ankles and feet as you stand in a river are just a couple of simple examples that really demonstrate how powerful nature truly is when it comes into direct physical contact with us. Feeling the grass under your feet, the wind in your hair, or the warm rain on your skin are a few other suggested ways to let nature heal you through touch.
The above examples help prove that you don’t have to be standing right under the Northern Lights or on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean to experience the wonders of nature and be inspired by it. Look for the little things that are already around you, and they’ll almost certainly reveal to you just how incredibly wonderful the nature of life really is.