The Benefits of Being Awestruck

In December 1972, astronauts aboard the Apollo 17 spacecraft snapped a photograph of our Earth from an altitude of 45,000 kilometres. The photograph, known as “The Big Blue Marble,” let everyone see their planet fully illuminated for the first time. The picture, showing the Earth looking isolated and vulnerable, left everyone awestruck. And “The Big Blue Marble” became the most widely-distributed image of the 20th century. Now, less than a half century later, pictures of our planet barely move us. And we hardly bat an eyelash at videos giving us remarkable views from the International Space Station.

We’re losing our sense of awe at our own peril, however. The title of a new Stanford study tells you all you need to know: Awe Expands People’s Perception of Time, Alters Decision Making, and Enhances Well-Being. Apparently, watching awe-inspiring vidoes makes you less impatient, more willing to volunteer time to help others, more likely to prefer experiences over material products, more present in the here and now, and happier overall. (More on that here.) All of this provides filmmaker Jason Silva the material for yet another one of his “philosophical shots of espresso,” The Biological Advantage of Being Awestruck. It’s the first video above.

Find more awe in our collection of Great Science Videos.

 



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  • Sherilyn Fuentes

    I just watched this with my 4 year old soon to be 5 granddaughter and she and I agreed that the video was something we would watch again and again so we could capture the grandness of our lives.

  • deborah schein

    Interesting findings. I am currently completing a dissertation on spiritual development of young children beginning at birth. One of the qualities that children have in abundance when given a loving secure environment is awe. It is one of the basic dispositions my participants stated as relating to a young child’s spiritual development. More importantly, they shared that the more connected children are to others, and to things of beauty, the easier it is for basic dispositions to change into complex dispositions of caring and empathy.

    Who actually wrote the original study that was quoted by exchange? How can I get a copy of it?

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