Time is a scarce commodity for most people today. A recent poll of Americans found that nearly half (47%) feel like they didn’t have enough time between the daily demands of their family, job and personal errands. This time-crunched feeling of having too much to do and not enough time to do it has been linked to some undesirable side effects like trouble sleeping, extreme stress, poor diet decisions and postponing seeing a doctor when ill. Sound familiar?
Thankfully, researchers from Stanford and the University of Minnesota have found just what all of us impatient, over-worked people need—a dose of awe. Their study (PDF) found that when we experience awe—which they define as that “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”—you focus more on the present moment, which expands your sense of time. Which means after you catch an epic sunrise, take in the majesty of a mountain or helicopter over a Hawaiian island, you no longer feel like life is quickly passing you by. You become less impatient and more interested in taking care of yourself and others.
What’s more, you don’t have to jet off to some exotic locale to revel in a vast, awe-inspiring view. You can experience awe from a particularly powerful film, natural events like a rainstorm or by paying attention to things you might’ve missed before like a rhythmic flock of birds flying or peering up at a skyscraper. It’s different for each person, but you’ll know it when you see it. After all, it’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.
Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges. So relax.”