Research suggests that awe can make you happier, healthier, more humble, and more connected to the people around you. Starting 15 years ago, scientists have been studying the complex and mysterious emotion called awe—one you might have felt if you’ve stood in front of the Taj Mahal, hiked among towering redwoods, or had your mind blown at a concert, play, or ballet.
Inducing goosebumps and dropped jaws, awe experiences are remarkable in their own right. Moreover, a growing body of research suggests that experiencing awe may lead to a wide range of benefits, from happiness and health to perhaps more unexpected benefits such as generosity, humility, and critical thinking.
In our busy lives, seeking awe may be low on our list of priorities. But we might be underestimating its power. The latest research suggests that taking the time to experience awe—whether through engaging with nature, enjoying great art or music, or even bingeing on breathtaking YouTube videos—may be a pathway to improving your life and relationships.
Experiencing awe over time could potentially have long-term health benefits, at least according to one study. People with a greater general tendency to experience awe—but not any of the other seven positive emotions studied—had lower levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a marker of inflammation (too much inflammation can lead to a host of chronic diseases). A second part of the study found that participants who reported feeling more “awe, wonder, and amazement that day” had lower levels of IL-6; this was true even after accounting for people’s general tendency to experience awe and be open to new experiences. In other words, all of us—not just people who are prone to experiencing awe frequently—may be able to reap the health benefits of a particularly wondrous day.
One of the most profound effects of awe is how it can change our perception of ourselves relative to the larger world. In particular, multiple studies have shown that awe can make us feel small, diminished, or insignificant—what researchers call the “small self” effect. Besides making people feel physically smaller, awe may also make people more humble. One recent study found that people who are more naturally prone to experiencing awe felt more humility and were rated as more humble by their friends.
In fact, multiple studies have found that experiencing awe may make people more kind and generous. For example, one study found that people with a greater tendency for awe were more generous in laboratory tasks like distributing raffle tickets between themselves and an unknown participant. Together, these studies suggest that awe may prompt us to help others and to be more generous, perhaps because of the way it encourages us to focus less on ourselves and expands our perception of available time.
Which of the following can be inferred from the passage?
During a recession, investments would not lose value.
During a recession, unemployment rate will remain the same.
During a recession, business confidence will be high.
During a recession, stock prices often decline.
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