Ever have one of those moments where you look up at the stars and feel overwhelmed by how cool the world is? This in-depth piece from Psychology Today explains that awestruck moments like that are not only awesome, they’re also really important for our mental health. Michio Taku, Ph.D., a theoretical physicist, likens awe to zooming a camera lens way out, making our lives and worries seem pretty tiny.
This wow feeling also makes us feel less rushed, less selfish, and calmer overall, which can be especially helpful for people who experience anxiety or depression. A moment of awe can pause the stream of negative or worrisome thoughts.
And we don’t have to wait for these moments to come along; we can seek them out. Daniel Smith, author of Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety, compares “chasing awe” to psychotherapy, which is all about building new habits and perspectives.
Going out into nature is the most obvious awe-inducing activity, but city dwellers can also visit a local park, watch Planet Earth, or read an article about the great outdoors. Even something not related to nature (consciously slowing down for a few minutes, reading a good book, or taking a stimulating class) can help you say “wow” a little more often.