How many times this week have you been in awe? The type of awe that takes your breath away and you know that for one second, a minute, or for a lifetime, you’ll remember that feeling in your heart. The feeling of awe is life changing.
Over the past several months, I’ve been keeping track of my “awe” moments. They have actually increased and I notice that all I have to do is reflect back to the event, and, I can be in awe again. Awesome, huh?
Imagine how surprised I was to open up the Wall Street Journal online on 02/23/15 and find this article: Researchers Study Awe and Find It Is Good for Relationships. And, not just relationships, but good for YOU in so many ways.
According to those researchers, “‘awe experiences’ increase our prosocial behaviors, making us more generous and more humble. They increase our ‘empathic accuracy,’ so we recognize another person’s emotional expression and respond with concern. And they make us more willing to engage with trust and connect with others.”
In addition, experiencing awe may help fight depression and lower inflammation in the body. Besides the high it gives us, it’s downright healthy.
Experiencing awe changes the way we view the world. Whether we are looking at spectacular scenery, seeing one’s child for the very first time, seeing the moon/Venus/Mars all lined up together as we did last week, or viewing a beautiful piece of art… in that moment we are changed and we expand.
Paul Piff, assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Irvine, says “Awe minimizes our individual identity and attunes us to things bigger than ourselves.” THAT is a powerful feeling. We leave the autopilot treadmill of our mind, and we expand.
Feelings of awe that have stuck with me and still generate a “WOW” from my soul:
- In the summer of 2013, we were on vacation in Vermont and at that time, we had not made any solid decision about moving up here. I was riding my bike from Woodstock to Barnard and in this one particularly scenic stretch, I got the chills. I was thinking, “If we ever moved up here, I could call this place home and feel this feeling every time I ride my bike and see this countryside.” I can still feel that feeling when I think about that day.
- Seeing some baby goats – recently born – and thinking they are the happiest animals I have ever seen in my life. For those of you who know me from Facebook, you can attest to my love of little goats.
- Seeing the Grand Tetons for the very first time in all of their majesty. Holy ground as far as I am concerned.
- Visiting an art gallery in Woodstock that has these big, colorful paintings by Dutch artist, Ton Schulten. I can sit in a chair there and take in their grander with the colors just exploding off the canvas.
- Watching kids swing on a rope swing over the Ottauquechee River nearby… birch trees lining the river and a red covered bridge in the background. No matter when I see that going on, I’m in awe. It’s real life.
It’s so very easy to get hung up on what’s going wrong in our lives, the tragedies that are happening throughout the world, what we don’t like, and everything we should be afraid of. I don’t believe in being a Pollyanna, but there is nothing wrong with living on all the good vibes you can.
According to Dacher Keltner, director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, “People report having three awe experiences a week on average.”
How about you? Three or more awe experiences every week? What fills you with awe? And, if you aren’t having your fair share of them, where could you go and what could you do to get them stirred up?
Five provocative questions answered by an inspiring and fabulous woman – a woman with something to say.
Meet Sharrie Williams
Sharrie Williams, heir to the Maybelline legacy, is Tom Lyle Williams’ (the founder) great-niece and is steward of the vast Maybelline archives. Sharrie tells the story of the birth of the Maybelline empire and reveals intimate and never-before-told details about the fascinating family dynasty behind it in her book, The Maybelline Story.
People would be surprised to know that: I graduated from Vanguard University with a Bachelors degree in Psychology when I was fifty-four years old, just two weeks after my twenty-four year old daughter graduated Arizona State University with the same degree.
The WTL 5:
What’s the conversation that changed your life?
My writing teacher told me I had discovered my voice and had something to say. She told me to write a book.
What are you most conscious of today?
The importance of women discovering their true identity and sharing it as role models for the next generation.
What part of you have you yet to give voice to?
My life story. I finally believe my personal story will be more important than The Maybelline Story.
What’s the conversation women need to be having collectively?
Getting involved on any level to keep our values and culture protected.
What needs to be said bigger, louder, stronger?
For me, it’s “GOD BLESS AMERICA.”
Thank you, Sharrie, for sharing your powerful voice
with WomanTalk Live