Unlocking Awe: Embrace Everyday Marvels

Ah, there’s something wonderful about the power of awe, isn’t there? Imagine tapping into a rush of wonderment and respect for something astonishing that takes your breath away. A beautiful sunset, the grandeur of a tall mountain range, or even intricate designs found in nature (I took the photo above on my run this morning!) – these moments have the power to inspire awe, offering a sensation of being part of something much greater than ourselves. This is the power of awe, a force that can elevate your psychological and physiological state, leading to happiness.

By finding awe in everyday experiences, you can reshape your perspective, making your life more fulfilling and enjoyable, even impacting your professional life with increased creativity and innovation.

Let’s learn about this from a few areas –

  1. From Ordinary to AWE
  2. Importance of AWE
  3. Transformative Benefits of AWE

What happens is you’re just out there living your life, and all throughout your day, all these ordinary moments are going to turn into moments of awe. You’ll start to see miracles and wonder and beauty in ways that you never saw possible. Dr. Michael Amster

From Ordinary to AWE

Dr. Michael Amster, a devoted mindfulness teacher and co-author of the Power of Awe, has journeyed from finding happiness in peak experiences to uncovering profound joy in everyday activities, like making pancakes. While our guest on the HAPPINESS SQUAD Podcast, Dr. Amster discussed how his transformation came from developing a simple practice focused on finding awe in ordinary moments. Michael is a firm believer and has conducted extensive research on the benefits of AWE on the mind and body. Now, the AWE method provides a shortcut to all these benefits and is accessible to anyone, anywhere.

The AWE Method: A Step-by-Step Guide to Embracing Everyday Awe

  1. Attention: Begin by being present in the moment, observing something in the world around you with intention. It’s about noticing the small wonders that often go unnoticed amidst our busy lives.
  2. Wait: Pause and observe, allowing them to resonate within you. Recognize the significance of these seemingly ordinary experiences, and let them sink in.
  3. Exhale/Expand: Take a moment to exhale, to expand your perspective. Interpret and appreciate these observations from a fresh angle, allowing yourself to be awed by the beauty and complexity of the world we inhabit.

I invite you to take 20 seconds and apply the method to the photo above or something around you – perhaps the phone in your hand or laptop in front of you…the number of people, components and innovation that went into creating it to connect us in this moment.

Dr.  Amster beautifully shared his personal journey through both his and his patients application of the power of awe in everyday life. He delved into his transformative experience of deriving happiness not just from extraordinary experiences or successes, but from simple, everyday moments. Dr. Amster begins by sharing his evolved definition of happiness, one that pivoted from high achievements to mindfulness and appreciation for the world around him. Walking in the park with his beloved dog, witnessing the beauty of nature, and learning to appreciate the ordinary turned into extraordinary experiences for him. More importantly, it wasn’t just for him. Ashish and I resonated with Dr. Amster’s experience, and shared our experiences of finding awe in our everyday lives.

Importance of AWE

This brings us to the crux of why recognizing the power of awe holds immense importance, particularly for individuals leading busy lives. Harnessing the power of awe is not confined to life-altering events or breathtaking views from mountaintops. Awe is found in the everyday, in the ordinary. Think about the feeling you get when you hear a piece of music that stirs your soul, or when you watch the rainfall from your window. It’s about acknowledging and appreciating the wonder and magnificence that life presents in the simplest of ways.

When we truly harness the power of awe, we chase the everyday extraordinary rather than the extraordinary itself. It puts our lives into perspective, giving us the ability to comprehend our place amidst the grand scheme of life and the universe. This understanding not only cultivates a sense of happiness, but also well-being, gratitude, and mindfulness – and that’s the true magic woven into the fabric of everyday life, isn’t it?

Transformative Benefits of Awe

Done anywhere and anytime, the power of AWE isn’t just pleasure but an instant connection with an elusive state of existence the Buddha calls Nirvana. Leaning into the awe of everyday experiences isn’t just a feel-good practice. It goes deeper than that. This practice can become a beacon of light even in trying times, offering a quick and efficient way to step away from stress and negativity, it reminds us of the beauty that surrounds us despite facing adversities.

Dr. Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, states that awe is critical to our well-being — just like joy, contentment‌ and love. His research suggests it has tremendous health benefits that include calming down the nervous system and triggering the release of oxytocin, the “love” hormone that promotes trust and bonding. “Awe is on the cutting edge” of emotion research, said Judith T. Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Dr. Moskowitz, who has studied how positive emotions help people cope with stress.

With consistent practice, cultivating awe functions as a positive feedback loop – the more we find awe in the ordinary, the more attuned we become to life’s inherent beauty, and the more resilient we become in the face of life’s challenges. Ultimately, this practice strengthens our mental and emotional well-being and infuses everyday life with a sense of fulfillment, peace, and profound happiness.

Unlock the Marvel of Everyday Awe

Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world. In a world filled with distractions, finding awe in everyday moments through the AWE method offers a cost-free, accessible tool to invigorate your life. It’s a reminder that the simplest things hold profound beauty, fostering a fresh perspective, and connecting you to the grand scheme of existence.

So, whether you’re stirring your coffee or watching a raindrop glide down your window, remember – there’s a slice of nirvana waiting to be savored, right in the midst of your daily routine.

Dr. Michael Amster , MD, is a physician and faculty member at Touro School of Medicine. With twenty years as a pain management specialist, Michael is keenly aware of the integration of mind, body, and spirit and the effects of physical and psychospiritual pain on health and well-being, and co-author of The Power of Awe. Michael is currently the founding director of the pain management department at Santa Cruz Community Health and a student and practitioner of meditation for over thirty years, he is also a certified yoga and meditation teacher. He splits his time between clinical work, research on awe, teaching mindfulness, and leading awe-inspiring retreats around the world. Connect with him via LinkedIn or visit him at The Power of Awe.

Listen to the full podcast with Michael below.

Access and subscribe to the all of the episodes of the Happiness Squad Podcast here.

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With the focus on enhancing joy, health, love and meaning in your life, my transformational approach is interdisciplinary and integrates learnings from spiritual wisdom traditions, philosophy, positive psychology, neuroscience and organizational development.

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