So what is awe?

Researchers at UC Berkeley tell us that "awe happens when you encounter something so vast that you don't feel like you can wrap your mind around it completely." Awe involves the magic of life, like birth, or something in nature so beautiful you can't fully describe it or, even feeling connected and completely understood by another human being. That, to many, is awesome.

To researcher Craig Anderson "awe  is  a  response  to  things  that  are  perceptually  vast,  that  we  don’t  fully  understand  at  the moment.  This  makes  it  a very  unique  emotion.  We  find  behaviors  associated  with  awe  that  are adaptive  in  situations  that  are  super  novel,  like  trying  to  connect  with  other people  or  just being  curious.  When  faced  with  something  that  blows  your  mind,  you  want  to  find  out  more information."

The benefits of feeling being awe inspired? For one thing, this powerful emotion takes you out of your head and into your heart where you see and feel things differently. To veterans suffering from PTSD, awe can alleviate symptoms of stress and feeling overwhelmed. Being in nature camping or hiking or river rafting, mentally and emotionally take you to another place where you plain old feel better.

Taking the awe of nature one step further, a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives shows that living closer to nature is better for your health, and may even extend your life. "Exposure to Greenness and Mortality in a Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study of Women" by Peter James, Jaime E. Hart, Rachel F. Banay, and Francine Laden, indicates that people living in the greenest places — that is, people who had the most vegetation within 800 feet of their homes — had a 12 percent lower rate of mortality from any non-accidental cause than people living in the least green places. Specifically, they found that the relationship was strongest for deaths related to respiratory disease, cancer and kidney disease. These results were the same regardless of the participants’ income, weight or smoking status and also did not significantly change between urban and suburban locations.

For more information on the study Nature and Mortality, please click here.