Psychologists have claimed that regular ‘awe-inspiring’ experiences can have a positive impact on our mental health and can make us nicer, friendlier people. They also say they can help people deal with stress better and cope with modern day living more effectively.
These kinds of overwhelming experiences can slow down people’s perception of time, and can bring their attention to the present moment. This ability to live ‘in the moment’ can be key to improving people’s mental state.
The study on a group of volunteers found that those who were experiencing awe felt they had more time to spare. This change in attitude prompted them to feel they had more patience and were willing to sacrifice more time helping others.
The experiments included asking people to write about previous awe-inspiring events in their life, as well as showing volunteers videos of ‘vast images’ of natural phenomena and astronauts in space.
Melanie Rudd, from Stanford University in California, concluded: "A small dose of awe even gave participants a momentary boost in life satisfaction... and underscored the importance of cultivating awe in everyday life."
The researchers added: "Our studies ... demonstrated that awe can be elicited by a walk down memory lane, a brief story, or even a 60-second commercial."