As the sun heads south and summer fades, we’re faced with more hours of darkness. Even though the days get shorter, it turns out our to-do lists don’t. No matter the season, most of us live in a continual state of busyness, navigating packed schedules constantly feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day to take care of everything.
For people desiring more time each day, recent studies show that experiencing awe can actually expand our sense of time. In an essay about awe, Polly Cambell says, “Awe is triggered when we perceive something to be vast—physically or metaphorically bigger than ourselves or our experience.”
As the brain tries to experience and understand something awesome, it’s required to switch out of autopilot and actually drop into the moment. Finding our awareness immersed in the present, we feel time slow down and we appreciate the extraordinary amidst the ordinary. This presence of mind eases our constant sense of being stressed and pressed. We indeed feel like we have more time.
And while finding such vastness might seem challenging, nature, art and music are easy to access sources. Watching a sunrise or sunset, checking out an art museum or cranking up inspiring tunes can give the mind the pause it needs to soak in awe. Also, and lucky for us, our local habitat is rich with options!
Stretching out our hours by experiencing awe leads to greater levels of contentment, lower amounts of stress and increased feelings of satisfaction. The natural world offers abundant opportunities to experience awe and any season is the perfect season to get out and immerse ourselves in life’s vastness. Take time and see what’s waiting when you pause to drink in the extraordinary.
Eli is a Lecturer of Adventure Education at FLC with expertise in mindful leadership, expedition planning and leadership, and tons of experience leading others in finding the personal and interpersonal benefits of exploring wild spaces.