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What Happens When We Experience ‘Awe’?

What Happens When We Experience ‘Awe’?


One of my favorite experiences was climbing
to the second highest peak in the state of New York and gazing out across the wide Adirondacks.
It was literally awesome. But what is about awe? And why do we get that feeling? Hey wonderers, Julia here for DNews When was the last time you felt awe? Standing
under a canopy of soaring sequoias? Staring across the vast and endless sea? Looking into
the eyes of a newborn? Awe is something that makes us feel connected,
part of something larger than ourselves that maybe we can’t quite understand. And for
us that’s sometimes difficult. We like ourselves. that big important I. We like ME over WE.
But we need to get over that real fast, because awe, is well… awesome. but why? Why did we ever evolve this feeling?
Maybe to help other people, so say some researchers. So when we experience awe, what happens? Well
for one, it might make us healthier. In one study published in the journal Emotion, researchers
found that awe reduces the levels of pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines. These proteins tell the immune system to work
harder. And prolonged inflammation can cause all sorts of issues, like heart damage, diabetes,
Alzheimer’s and even depression. Which of course depression might lead people to be
less likely to explore and seek out such awe inspiring situations, so the researchers aren’t
sure what came first, the low cytokines or the positive emotions. My bet is on the positive emotions, because
other studies, like one published in the journal Psychological Science found that awe might
make us prefer experience over things and even be happier with their lives. Awe can even change a person’s perception
of time. After being awe-struck, some people feel like they have more time according to
the study published in the journal Psychological Science. In this study, students watch a commercial
designed to invoke awe, stuff like whales and waterfalls. Afterwards, the students filled
out a questionnaire in which they responded positively to questions like “I have lots
of time in which I can get things done”. And they were more likely to use their time to
help other people. Seriously awe can make us be more generous
to other people. Another study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
says the experience of awe makes us more willing to help someone else. In several studies people
who thought about the last time the felt awe or watched awe-inspiring nature videos showed
more ethical behavior than people who thought about other positive feelings like pride. In one particular clever set up, researchers
had participants either stand gazing up at tall Eucalyptus trees for a full minute or
stand in the same spot but look at a building instead. After the minute was up, the researchers
“accidently” dropped a box of pens. Those who looked at the trees were more likely to
help the researcher than those in the control setting. So why does awe make us more helpful? Well
because big things make us feel small. And that’s a good thing. The researchers think
that by feeling smaller, our focus shifts from ourselves and towards the greater good. So wanna feel happier and more helpful? Head
to the woods! Or if you’d prefer to stay inside, and still want to experience Awe,
Jason Silva explores the idea in one of his first videos on his show Shots Of Awe Make sure to check out his show and subscribe
to his channel. There’s a link to subscribe in the description
of this video.

50 comments on “What Happens When We Experience ‘Awe’?

  1. We ought to have Awe in God. God is the way and he created us to worship him and have awe in him. God parted the sea and helped isreal and saved the world of sin. God is great! Amen and Shalom 🙂 hallelujah!

  2. The thumbnail for this video was really weird. 
    The camera is looking at the treetops (meaning it's pointed vertically), and yet the woman is standing perpendicular to the camera. That means that she is actually floating above it with her head pointing downwards.
    I know it's green screen, but it was so weird and unnatural that I just stared at it for 3 minutes trying to figure out what was going on. 😀

  3. I feel awe when I think about how vast space is and how small we and the Earth are. Then it makes be feel embarrassed at how stupid humans are, fighting and killing each other over insignificant things… 🙁

  4. Why did this video only focus on natural settings causing awe? The last three times I felt awe it was by something artificial.

  5. My latest awe-filled moments happened: at an Anathema concert, and seeing 'Santa Maria del Fiore', the Dome in Florence… ('fiore' means flower in italian, but in romanian, 'fior' means both a shiver and also an 'awe' feeling…). Seeing pictures of it… it don't mean nothin'. Being there… it's just… Alien. Huge. Glorious. Divine.

  6. If all our ideas boil down to chemical reactions in our heads, then words like pleasure, pain, joy or sorrow are simply meaningless.  You would just be physical system of chemical reactions.  You get a sensory input.  This causes a specific chemical reaction in your brain.  Your brain then causes a specific physical action.  There is no room for any notions of "better" or "worse" in this system.  Ideas like that only apply when there are choices to be made (free will) but chemical reactions don't make choices.  And if we are just physical objects with no soul/spirit, then we are just chemical reactions.  In fact, even illusions of happiness and sadness cannot emerge from a purely physical system.  You would have to say that you aren't really even experiencing the illusion of pleasure or pain.  Rather, they would just be meaningless words.

  7. I believe awe is best described by the overview effect; It's only when these astronauts gaze upon the Earth that they truly understand how we are all in this together, surviving on a giant rock, orbiting a G2-star…

    But mountains, or rather being on top of a mountain with a great view is very awe-inspiring to me. I think it goes back to the curiosity of early humans wanting to know "what's over that hill".

    side note: everything is not awesome.

  8. A few days ago on a small Greek Island, suddenly there was a power blackout at around midnight. I looked up to the sky and saw the milky way for the first time in my life. This was aweeeeeee some

  9. Best moment of awe, watching the sunrise over the horizon from the top of a mountain. There is nothing like it.

  10. Awe is when you like it but don't get it. Is surprised and impressed. Music can be a good source. But of course, size matters.

  11. We didn't evolve this emotion… its obviously related to love. Not to mention there are multiple scriptures for this specific feeling…

  12. Last time I felt awe was a few years ago. God sent and angel. Beautiful he was, wing glowed bright. Unforantely He caught me in the middle of masterbating. Something I've done since I was twelve. He leans over and kisses the head of my erect penis and whispers. "You are wonderful".

  13. This morning, actually, I stepped outside for a few. The sky was heavily overcast, giving everything a grey tint. The rain was falling gently but insistently. There were occasional loud booms of thunder. I did feel awe and a sense of gratitude for being able to experience the moment.

  14. I feel an overwhelming feeling of awe each time the plane is on the track racing to get enough speed for lift and the moment the plane touches off the ground. I can just think: this is what I love about humanity.

  15. some parts of the last of us to me where awe inspiring as well as first tie seeing rapture and columbia ill never get the feelings back

  16. I've met a few women that put me in "awe".
    I'm sure you would too if the makeup artists didn't try to make you look average for the young viewers here.

  17. I agree that feeling small is part of it, but I think the evolutionary root is different. When we feel awe of a PERSON, we feel overpowered by them. Think of watching a great boxer string endless crushing blows together, or a musician seemingly defying physics with a sweeping solo, or seeing a politician deftly weave an argument around an opponent. You feel awe – and then, admiration.

    People tend to experience a strong sense of bonding to those people they feel awe towards – after all, isn't it better to have someone powerful be your friend? It reinforces a social hierarchy, which leads to less in-fighting and so, on a tribal level, less injury or death as in the animal kingdom. Lastly, with awe, you always want to share it, and when you share your awe of another, there is the likelihood others still will see that awesome individual as awesome too due to social proof (see online celebrity 🙂 ). It all factors into social cohesion and preservation of hierarchy.

    The depression link comes from depression's role in the sense that you have either been defeated by or cast out by someone, or the whole of, your tribe. Sharing roots with shame, It suppresses the urge to fight, makes you compliant, and from an evolutionary perspective, means you are less likely to be killed in a fight and to acquiesce to the group's attitudes. You can fit back in, even if you don't really like it. But that sucks. However, if you can feel awe over this person, and that sense of admiration or "love" again, problem solved. Its a balm for the nagging, corrosive effect of depression or anger.

    Like feelings of protectiveness though (why do we find a baby dolphin cuter than human babies?), our emotions can be transferred to other things, such as trees, mountains, animals and so on. It can also be abused by people who want to influence you, so its worth being aware of exactly who you are in awe of, and why 🙂

  18. for me recently it's been connecting with other awesome people. even if looking into someone's eyes on a screen is nothing compared to the visuals of life, resemblance to the actual truth is still a little bit there

  19. HELP ! ! ! HELP ! ! ! HELP ! ! !
    English is not my primary language . so , could anyone please help me understand what exactly is awe ?
    please reply so that i can have a discussion with you 🙂
    thanks .

  20. Unfortunately, the findings of the effects of awe overlap a lot with the findings of the effect of nature (more prosocial behaviour, mental health, more positive emotions, less negative emotions, attention, physical health) AND in the studies of the effects of awe, pictures of nature were used. I guess many people just get awe struck by nature. The problem now is, do these effects also account for being awe struck as a result by something besides nature?

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