There is something magical about walking at sunrise. The world is waking up, the day is brand new, the possibilities seem endless. When that sky begins to light up, it’s like you are present for a secret fireworks display or an unveiling of a masterpiece. It is hard not to gape in awe, frankly. And that experience– awe– is powerful.
Awe can make us at once feel very small in the enormity of the universe,
but also as if we are very special and uniquely privileged to be let in on a secret. We are part of something beautiful and mysterious and far greater than our own worries and concerns.
In fact, experiencing awe changes us, making us more generous and, maybe, even, more, ethical. That sense of being part of something far larger than ourselves is therapeutic:
Participants consistently reported that awe produced “a reduced sense of self importance relative to something larger and more powerful that they felt connected to,” says Piff. And subsequent analysis confirmed that this feeling of the “small self” was responsible for their ethical behavior. This seems to suggest that experiencing awe prompts people to help others.
And then there are the benefits to our creative lives. Beethoven was known for his long walks, often incorporating the sounds he heard in the woods into his compositions. In fact, many musicians, artists and philosophers swore by the benefits of walking to their creative lives.
So maybe today, the answer to the stresses facing you, the tumult of disagreement, the anxiety over the future, is to open the front door and hit the pavement or, better yet, the open trail.