Five ways to add more awe to your life

May 21, 2024 | News

Research shows that experiencing more awe changes our perception of the time. Here are five ways you can find it

Do you feel as if the days are slipping by at a rapid pace? You may need a little awe to live your life.

According to a growing body of research, experiencing awe can slow our perception of the passage of time. This phenomenon is known as time dilation.

In a recent study, 100 participants were shown images of large scenes and small cluttered areas, such as cabinets. Researchers found that participants were more likely than not to believe they had spent less time looking at small scenes, while the opposite was true when it came to larger scenes.

Prof Martin Wiener said that the time dilation may be due to our brains working more hard in order to gather information from scenes that we find memorable.

A study found that experiencing awe can also improve your mood, reduce stress, and increase your tendency to be kind. What is awe, and how can we increase its presence in our lives?

Awe is triggered by experiencing vastness, whether it’s physical or conceptual. Image: Joshua Earle

In the book Awestruck by Jonah Paquette, published in 2021, he says that awe is a combination of two things: encountering “vastness” and experiencing transcendence.

Vastness can be an expansive view of a mountain range or a concept you find difficult to grasp, like the size of the entire universe.

You don’t need to travel to the stars to feel awe. Here are five simple ways to add more awe to your life.

1. Embrace nature

The word awesome is overused, but it is a good way to describe nature. The natural world is awe-inspiring not only because it’s vast, but also because it’s full of small miracles. A spider’s web or the patterns of a leaf could be the inspiration. Take a walk and take in the vastness of nature.

Image: Maros Misove

2. Take note of the little things

Many of us rush through life on autopilot. Our brains are frantically trying to process information, and we barely notice the finer details. Jonah Paquette says that by slowing down, we can be more aware of the everyday. For example, the smell of food or the sound sparrows make.

Image: Calum Lewis

3. Escape your comfort zone

Newness can also be awe-inspiring. Newness can also play tricks on our minds. “Unfamiliarity, new experiences, new surroundings, any kind newness, slows down our perception of time,” says Dr Steve Taylor, lecturer at Leeds Beckett University, and author of Making Time.

Image: Maksym Ivashchenko

4. Analogue is the way to go

We’ve all done it. We’ve missed out on some amazing experiences because we were too busy scrolling through our phone. Paquette suggests that we step away from screens regularly so that you can experience the analog world without distraction, where it is more likely for you to feel awe. This will probably also make you a better person to be around.

Image: Ales Krivec

5. Enjoy the moment

Hold onto the awesome things you see. You may be tempted to snap a picture and post it on social media. Instead, try to enjoy the moment. When you get home, make sure to write about the experience. According to Paquette this could help reduce the sense of time-pressure that we all feel while returning you back to that magical moment.

Image: Lightscape

Main image: Drif Riadh

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