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Take spending time outside in nature, for example. “Our brain is in its natural state in nature,” Norris explains, adding that it may be easier to feel “transcendent and connected” to something larger than ourselves when we’re in the great outdoors. If you have access to “big” nature — unique trees, canyons, wide open landscapes — it’s great to explore the terrain, Sweeny says. But when it’s too cold out (or when where you live isn’t exactly National Geographic material), simply watching an episode of “Planet Earth” or another nature show can have a similar effect.
Listening to tunes is another great conduit, says Yaden, whose research shows that music is a common trigger of awe. Music has the capacity to activate the imagination of the listener, and can “open up vast vistas within one’s mind,” he says. How you listen to your music makes an impact, too. Noise-canceling headphones, like Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, eliminate distractions so you can get lost in the rhythms and appreciate the sound on a deeper level.
Sometimes the best way to experience awe is to simply look around at the people closest to us, and pause long enough to appreciate something about them. In studies, this is referred to as “interpersonal awe — defined by themes of virtue or excellence of character.” And you don’t need a Nobel Prize-winner in your inner circle to feel it. Think of a parent seeing their child walk for the first time, Yaden says.
Even the daily, mundane tasks we engage in on a daily basis can trigger awe — if we approach them with a degree of mindfulness. Take, for instance, washing the dishes. “Notice how the water flows easily and feels good on your skin. Notice the soap bubbles and how your hands do the work without you having to consciously direct them,” Laurie Warren, M.S., author of Wild World, Joyful Heart: Unlock Your Power to Create Health and Joy, tells Thrive. If you slow down and really start to look around, you’ll see that opportunities to experience awe abound.