A recent Stanford study illustrates how the experience of “awe” actually changes our perception of TIME!
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” – Albert Einstein
The publication opens with:
“Awe Expands People’s Perception of Time, Alters Decision Making, and Enhances Well-Being Time might be the scarcest commodity for many people in modern life … This feeling of having too much to do and not enough time to do it—or “time famine” – has been linked to undesirable side effects including trouble sleeping, stress, difficulty delaying gratification, and postponing seeing a doctor when ill (Lehto, 1998; Vuckovic, 1999; Zhang & DeVoe, 2010). In light of these findings, we asked, what could be done to shift people’s perception of how much time is available?”
Researchers described awe as “the emotion that arises when one encounters something so strikingly vast that it provokes a need to update one’s mental schemas”. In other words, awe causes us to change or expand our existing mental frameworks in order to accommodate the experience! (Imagine that! The notion is awe-inspiring in itself!!) Think of all the dendrites and synaptic connections that are formed when we have to change up our perceptual frameworks …!
The study shows that when we experience “awe”, our perception of time actually expands “… due to awe’s ability to alter the subjective experience of time. Experiences of awe bring people into the present moment, which underlies awe’s capacity to adjust time perception, influence decisions, and make life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.”
… And regular incidences of awe cause increased feelings of personal well-being, increased compassion, and increased altruism!
The researchers found that a wide variety of experiences can elicit awe – powerful memories, Nature, Art, Science, and meaningful human interactions are some examples … And we can even deliberately cultivate this by tuning our attentions toward the profound and mysterious beauty inherent in everyday phenomena (like children naturally do)!
We can’t actually fly to another planet. But we can recapture that sense of having just tumbled out to life on a new world by looking at our own world in unfamiliar ways.” – Richard Dawkins
WHAT INSPIRES AWE for YOU?
Happiness and your Brain
The underlined link above connects to another recent presentation … This one offers a framework for understanding the ongoing “battle” between the brain’s cognitive and emotional centers and strategies for actually increasing affective well-being (happiness)! School culture is shaped by individual behaviors, attitudes, affects, and interactions. Brain plasticity (the super cool phenomenon wherein our brain structure/archetecture changes in response to experience) is responsive to everything we see, hear, do, and think! Teachers and school administrators (or anyone else, for that matter) can use strategies in this presentation to increase both personal well-being and ORGANIZATIONAL well-being, enhancing the educational experience for everyone in the school!