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How Awe Can Change Your Life

How Awe Can Change Your Life

By Melissa Albert

According to a recent study, awe-inspiring experiences can actually expand your perception of time. We're not talking "this dip is awesome" awe, but "dread and wonder, the world is so much bigger than me!" awe. By making you feel you have more available time, true awesomeness can be even more effective than a motivational "Live in the moment!" poster, inspiring you to do the stuff you'd otherwise put off.

Awe is defined by two things: the sense of vastness it makes you feel, and the way it changes how you see the world. So how can you bring more awe into your life? Assuming you don't live on a pristine Alpine mountaintop, it might not be at your fingertips. But here are a few ways you can throw yourself in the way of the world's crazy hugeness:

Nature! Grab onto it. Yes, it sounds cheesy, but try climbing a tree, or go to the beach and swim out as far as you can. Contemplate the giant ancientness of nature versus the tininess of you. Then eat a sandwich, cause you might be a little freaked out. If you live in an urban wasteland, watch Planet Earth and just try to remain unimpressed.

Leave your comfort zone. You knew this was coming. It might not be possible to manufacture amazingness, but you're more likely to find it when you're doing something you haven't already done a thousand times.

Experience great art. If you find art that truly moves you, it can plug you into that feeling of universal consciousness that goes hand in hand with awe.

Watch people do amazing things. The Olympics are coming! And watching athletes fly around in gravity-defying ways elicits a sense of awe. Live performance can have the same effect.

Help someone. Truly altruistic gestures slow you down and make you think, and no matter your motivation, that's good for you.

Acquire experiences, not goods. If you've got 50 bucks to spend, you'll be more likely to change your brain using it on a concert or gas money for a road trip than on every season of The Sopranos on iTunes. Increased happiness in general is linked to experience-seeking over opting for material goods—shopping's called retail therapy for a reason.

Have you ever experienced "awe"?

Topics: Life
Tags: guides, words, funny things, how to, english language, in the news

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About the Author
Melissa Albert

Melissa Albert reads books, worries about other people’s dogs (they look thirsty), and eats horrible candy for fun and profit. When not wearing her extremely tasteful Sparkitor hat, she’s an editor for the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. You can find her on Twitter @mimi_albert, or in the hot pretzel section of your local cafeteria.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.