Always plugged in and constantly juggling tasks at work and at home, many of us feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things we need to do.
But wouldn’t it be awesome to feel like you had more time? In fact, a new study suggests that experiencing awe—which psychologists define as the feeling we get when we come across something so strikingly vast in number, scope, or complexity that it alters the way we understand the world—could help us do just that. What’s more, awe might make us more generous with how we spend our time and improve our overall well-being.
In one part of the study, researchers induced feelings of awe in participants by showing them video clips of people encountering tremendous things like waterfalls and whales; among members of a comparison group, they induced by showing them video clips of people surrounded by confetti in a joyful parade.
The results, published by Psychological Science, show that members of the awed group were more likely to report feeling like they had more time than those who felt happiness.
‘Awe-eliciting experiences might offer one effective solution to the feelings of time starvation that plague so many people in modern life,’ write the researchers, who were based at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.
This led the researchers to predict that people who experience awe would be less likely to feel impatient—since people feel impatient when they think they’re short on time—and would be more willing to devote time to activities like volunteering.
To test this hypothesis, they instructed participants to write stories about events in their lives. One group was prompted to write about an experience that was vast and altered their perceptions of the world, while the other group was told to write about a time when they felt contentment or joy. Then, all participants completed a survey assessing their impatience and willingness to lend time to others.
As the researchers predicted, people who felt awe were less likely to feel impatient and more likely to volunteer their time than study participants who felt happiness.
In another experiment, the researchers induced awe in some people—by having them read a story about ascending the Eiffel Tower and getting a high-up view of Paris—but not others. Afterwards, they found that members of the awe group reported feeling more satisfied with their lives than the other group. Also, when given a choice between material goods and positive experiences—such as a watch vs. tickets to a Broadway show—the awe group was more likely than the other group to choose the positive experiences.
Prior research has found that positive experiences are more likely than material objects to bring us happiness. After analyzing their data, the researchers conclude that the awe group’s higher life satisfaction and preference for experiences over objects could be explained by the fact that they felt like they had more time on their hands.
Melanie Rudd, the lead author of the study and a PhD candidate in marketing at Stanford University, says the results show how something as subtle as our perception of time can have a big influence on our lives.
‘It impacts our willingness to volunteer to help other people and even our well-being,’ she says. ‘The idea that an emotion can alleviate this problem is an incredible idea to me.’ She suggests that people evoke more feelings of awe in their lives by exposing themselves to nature, art, and music. ‘Put yourself in situations where you’re experiencing new things,’ she says……Stacey Kennelly
this is our life in all of its exquisite pain and amazing potential…..when we come from that newness, we live with synchronicity and the delight of the wise sages….this is a call to play…..to know that there is no place to get to…to find a new way to kick it up a notch….find a little magic and take a few risks instead of following the never-ending and life-draining ‘shoulds’…..
Odyssey is a noble image for the mysterious process we call a human life. This journey is a soul voyage. Each of us is on such a journey, embracing both the concrete situation of our lives and an inner pilgrimage as well. We have to work out the details of our lives, but at the same time we are challenged to deal with the past, the world the dead have made for us, and the deep inner life that is under and beyond the literal events that absorb our attention. Our age seems obstinately focused on the external details of this journey. As we ignore the inner life, or at least the symbolic life expressed in the poetry of our actions and the events of our lives, the inner world doesn’t vanish, in our neglect it gathers strength as it continues to influence us. The soul doesn’t evolve or grow, it cycles and twists, repeats and reprises, echoing ancient themes common to all human beings. It is always circling home. Its odyssey is a drifting at sea, a floating toward home, not an evolution toward perfection….Thomas Moore
Taking off your shoes is a sacred ritual. It is a hallowed moment of remembering the goodness of space and time. It is a way of celebrating the holy ground on which you stand. If you want to be a child of wonder, cherish the truth that time and space are holy. Whether you take your shoes off symbolically or literally matters little. What is important is that you are alive to the holy ground on which you stand and to the holy ground that you are….Macrina Wiederkeher