Cultivating Awe

Enhancing personal meaning and connection through imagination and reflection

The feeling of awe encompasses a range of emotions including reverence, admiration, fear and wonder. It is evoked by things that are grand, sublime or extremely powerful, such as a virtuosic musical performance, great political figures, the galaxy, giant sequoia trees, a big social gathering or the conceptual understanding of a complex system.

Awe can be a deeply personal experience and researchers have identified two key cognitive mechanisms that underlie it: the perception of vastness and a challenge to mental processing.

Experiencing awe is associated with a host of positive outcomes, including increased helping behaviors, pro-environmental behaviour, enhanced life satisfaction and decreased aggressive attitudes. The aim of this exercise is to learn, both experientially and cognitively, how to facilitate awe experiences to cultivate greater connectedness and appreciation in different domains of life (e.g., study, work, family and friends).

Learning outcome

  • The student is able to relate to others and the world with appreciation, gratitude and joy by enabling awe experiences