awesome grand canyon

A new study out of Standford University shows you how to be more awesome—by exposing yourself to awesome things.

The paper, due to be published in Psychological Science later this year, posits that exposure to awesome things—literally, things that inspire awe—can expand the participant’s experience of time, increases feelings of well-being, and even causes people to be more altruistic and less materialistic.  

In particular, when people have new experiences that incite awe, they are more likely to feel the positive benefits.

So how can you bring a little more awe into your life?  Melanie Rudd, the author of the paper, has a few suggestions:

“There are two things needed for a true awe experience: 1) Perceptual vastness (i.e., you need to perceive that you’ve encountered something vast in number, size, scope, complexity, or social bearing) and 2) A need for accommodation (i.e., you must feel that you need to revise or update your mental structures/the way you think/your understanding of the world in order to understand the perceptually vast thing/stimuli). So anything you experience in daily life that leads you to experience these two things can stimulate awe and its benefits. And the things that elicit these two things and, as a result, awe, can differ from person to person. However, there are some things that seem to more frequently elicit awe-experiencing nature, being exposed to art or music, and observing the accomplishments of others. Things like social interactions and personal accomplishments seem to be less likely to elicit awe. And I imagine that just putting yourself in new situations, in new places, and encountering new people would increase your chances of experiencing awe.”

Seeking out things that are vast, or things that cause you to reorder your perception of the world could not only be fun and exciting, but it could also actually make you happier and a more awesome person.

Image by SteveD.