Grand Canyon

Ethan Kross describes dozens of chatter-reducing methods in his book Chatter, and while they are all interesting and helpful, I won’t be explicating all of them on this blog. However, here in this post I want to mention one more of them: awe. Awesomely enough, experiencing the feeling of awe can give us badly needed distance from our problems and help us feel part of something grander than the constricted space of our personal woes. Here’s how Kross describes this tool in the toolkit:

“Feeling awe allows us to transcend our current concerns in ways that put our problems in perspective. Of course, the experiences that provide people with awe vary. For some it is exposure to a breathtaking vista. For someone else it’s the memory of a child accomplishing an amazing feat. For others it may be staring at a remarkable piece of art. Find what instills a sense of awe within you, and then seek to cultivate that emotion when you find your internal dialogue spiraling. You can also think about creating spaces around you that elicit feelings of awe each time you glance at them.”

I love this—that you can seek out your own awe-inspiring experiences, which might be different from someone else’s. Awe is something I love most about reading great books. This is one of my primary awe-inducing avenues, but there are many others. Being in nature, listening to music, experiencing visual art, and attending powerful performances can all invoke awe in me.

As regards the last sentence of the quotation above, Kross explains that even looking at a pictorial representation serves. That’s excellent news. You don’t have to travel to the Grand Canyon; you can have a computer desktop background that features it. You don’t have to travel to famous art museums; you can make a collage of artsy postcards (like the one I have on my office wall!) and look at it from time to time.

Of course, you can also go experience the real thing. The pictorial representation idea is for all of those times when you can’t do that.

What types of experiences evoke awe in you? How can you increase your access to such experiences?