The Benefit of Wonder
“Our culture is awe-deprived,” says Paul Piff, Ph.D. “We spend more time looking down at our phones than up at the sky.”(Ways to Get More Awe in Your Life, Good Housekeeping Magazine, January, 2016)
Awe shakes the mundane “daily-ness” of life and engages the mind and body in recognizing the world around us from a panoramic view instead of a one-dimensional lens.
Awe forces you to change your perspective.
Melanie Rudd, Ph.D, is an “Awe Researcher” (bet you didn’t know there was such a thing). She says “you feel you have encountered something vast in size, complexity or power. Awe forces you to change your perspective. Have you ever looked down from an airplane window at thousands of twinkling city lights and thought, Hmmm, I guess that misspelling in my e-mail was not that important. In nonscientific terms, awe blows your mind.”
The following are the results of psychological studies on the benefits of wonder as reported in the above-mentioned article from the Good Housekeeping Magazine, but there are strong correlations in this list to living a life that is attentive to the presence of God.
- Awe expands your sense of time. All of us have felt we have too much to do and not enough time in which to get it done. When we reflect on an awe-inspiring happening such as the beauty of nature or the vastness of space, time seems to stand still. Awe brings you into the moment which replaces (even momentarily) worry about the future or stewing about the past.
- Awe can bond you to others. When you experience an awe-inspiring worship service you will find you have a connection with the others in attendance. Looking beyond ourselves and how awe affects others helps stir up wonder and amazement in us.
- Awe makes you healthier. Worry creates a hormone in us called cortisol. The rush of cortisol in our bodies helps us deal with momentary stress. Unfortunately many live from one stress to another and this ongoing high-level of cortisol in our bodies can be counterproductive. Too much cortisol produces high blood pressure, contributes to weight gain and can even damage our immune system.
If we take the time to withdraw and explore the wonders of nature, an inspiring happening, or the awesomeness of God we just may improve our quality of life.
So, how do you cultivate awe? Chase what inspires you, take mini Sabbaths (awe breaks), reflect on past awesome moments in your life, spend time with children.
By awesome and wondrous things You answer us in righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
You who are the trust and hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;
Who creates the mountains by His strength,
Being clothed with power,
Who stills the roaring of the seas,
The roaring of their waves,
And the tumult of the peoples,
So they who dwell at the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs
[the evidence of Your presence].
You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.
Psalm 65:5-8 (AMP)