CLEVELAND — Cleveland Clinic Psychologist Dr. Susan Albers said she was really struck by the research surround "awe moments." It's something that scientists have been researching the benefits of for the past 15 years. 

“Awe is a feeling that we get in the presence of something vast, that changes our understanding of the world or our perspective, such as looking up at the sky or the birth of a child. It's often associated with surprise, wonder, excitement, interest, and sometimes, a physiological feelings such as our jaw dropping or goosebumps," Albers explained.


What You Need To Know

  • The research has continued for the last 15 years

  • Albers said the moments don't need to be significant and can be found in every-day life

  • "Awe" moments have been shown to decrease stress, improve the immune system and overall help with mental health

When you first thought of an “awe” moment, you may think of something pretty rare. But Albers said you can find awe moments in every-day life. You just have to look for them.


“We often think it is associated with rare events like seeing the Olympics, or the sunset in Alaska, but research indicates that it's very connected with every-day events taking a walk in nature, looking at a piece of artwork — even the feeling that we can get when we listen to an amazing piece of music. We can find these 'ah-ha' moments anywhere in our lives if we are open and interested and train our mind, to find them.”

Albers said to find these moments, even in isolation, you can use the acronym AWE: “First, A is for attention. Draw your attention on to something that interests you, that you're curious about. W is wait. Just take a moment and let your mind pause our mind often wants to run forward, but just take a moment to look around you. And E is to exhale and expand on whatever sensations that you're feeling in that moment. So, for example, if you are to go on what is known as an auto walk, which scientists recommend is one of the simplest free easiest way to practice getting one of these all experiences, is to go outside, look up into the trees, draw your attention to the colors the sensations breathe in the air and the scent and wait for a moment, really take it in and then expand on those feelings, and those sensations whatever it is that you are taking in really pause and take a moment to appreciate it.”

A recent study shows those “awe walks” significantly shifted the mental health of participants and largely changed their perspective of the world.

"One of the things that amazes me about this research on our experiences is that it is transformative of people's mental health and their emotional health. It has been shown to decrease pain to increase our immune system to decrease our stress level, help with depression has benefits all the way around, even more so than the emotions of excitement and joy. So, it is worth taking a moment to learn how to do some of these aha moments to tune into them and incorporate them into your lives.”

Albers said a really great way to find these awe moments in our every-day lives is to take one picture each day for a week — something that catches your interest.

She suggests at the end of the week, review your photos. This will help to tune your mind into looking for those interesting things that you may miss by being too caught up in your own head or looking at screens.