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Freeport, ME, May 28, 2021

How to Create the Conditions for Awe

Seeing nature with new eyes this summer

Awe is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. We can, without much effort, create the conditions for awe in our every day. One of the ways to do that is through surprise and delight, trading our routines for something new and unexpected.

So much of what we do every day is habitual. Even the things that feel like a choice, from brushing our teeth to having something sweet after a meal, are in fact well-worn habits (for more on this see Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit). We like well-worn paths; they don’t require much of us. And this is quite useful to get us through life! But it’s also true that we allow something special, and restorative, to happen when we break free from of our habits and exercise some spontaneity, especially outside.

Spontaneity doesn’t have to be a last-minute trip to Bali. It can be as simple as taking a new route for your neighborhood walk or taking the longer, more scenic route home from the office. It can also be playful, like a game of “I Spy” from your back porch, introducing a little wonder for the things that surround us every day.

What’s the tallest tree on your street? What are the primary colors blooming in your neighborhood this season? What types of birds are chirping as you stroll down the sidewalk? These tiny wonders are at the root of the feeling of awe, and just noticing them is so good for us.

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