I have been interested in the idea of “Awe” ever since I stumbled upon one researcher’s description- the sense of a diminished self without a decrease in self-worth. This “defintion” sounded so much like the paradox’s I had been wrestling with and helping my clients wrestle with. I immediately thought of the song “I stand in awe of you,” making reference to God and it took on deeper meaning for me. This is exactly one of those areas that I believe psychology and research can add depth to our understanding of God and the bible. I’ve been doing some research in this area but writing about it always seemed to be put on the back burner. So rather than continue to wait for the “completed” idea, I thought I would simply put out an appetizer.
Here are several ways that awe can impact us (borrowed from “Feeling Awe May be the Secret to Health and Happiness” by Paula Spencer Scott in Parade magazine)
Awe binds us together- “we realize we’re a small part of something much larger. Our thinking shifts from me to we.”—David Bryce Yaden, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.
Awe helps us see things in new ways—awe puts on the brakes and keeps us still and attentive, says Arizona State University psychologist Michelle Shiota
Awe makes us nicer—and happier. “Awe causes a kind of Be Here Now that seems to dissolve the self,” says social psychologist Paul Piff of the University of California, Irvine.
Awe alters our bodies. “Awe is the positive emotion that most strongly predicts reduced levels of cytokines, a marker of inflammation that’s linked to depression, according to research from University of Toronto’s Jennifer Stellar.”