We may often take the wonders of life for granted, whether it be a beautiful spring morning with warm rays of sunshine, or being reunited with a loved one you have been unable to see for a prolonged period. But does this transient joy, this awe-inspiring wonder, really have any meaningful impact on our lives? As it turns out, it does. By recognizing and engaging in these moments, we can add an extra level of peace, vitality and joy to our daily lives.
The merits of moments such as these extend beyond aesthetic pleasure. Studies by psychologists Richard J. Davidson, Barbara Fredrickson and their colleagues suggest that when individuals take the time to appreciate a nostalgic moment, or the beauty of the natural world, their brains seem to become rewired for positive emotion. Experiencing moments of awe increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, which has been found to reduce stress and improve well-being. there's something about viewing and interacting with nature that can provide us with a sense of deep inner peace, a feeling of belonging and contentment in the present moment.
Likewise, moments of awe force us to confront our own temporal mortality. When we are confronted with something so powerful it transcends our understanding and awakens us to the vastness of life, we are captivated and humbled by existence and its seemingly infinite mysteries. We become less concerned with material accomplishments and competitive success, and gain perspective of our individual powerlessness relative to the infinite scale of the universe. These feelings create the perfect opportunity to re-examine assumptions, adopt new points of view, and even alter directions in life.
Conversely, a life full of everyday monotony and trivial matters can cause feelings of apathy and numbness. Mindless tasks keep us trapped in a state of complacency and unhappiness, a feeling of inertia and stagnation. Fortunately, those special awe-inspiring moments need not only come to us passively - we ourselves can actively seek them out. Though walking in nature or spending time with loved ones are great places to start, we can also find moments of awe in different facets of life. Consumption of art or music, international travel or physical activity can significantly improve our daily experience and unlock avenues of spiritual transformation.
By recognizing and embracing these awe-inspiring moments, we can unlock potential for greater joy, inner peace and contentment. For a brief moment, we can revel in life's magnificence, bask in its beauty, and tap into something far greater than our individual selves. Though it can be hard to allow some space for these amazing moments to fill our lives, once we do, they can offer us a world of transformative possibilities. Therefore, let us all make the effort to pause, take a look around us, then appreciate and recognize the magnificent wonders of life.