Nicole Bensen

Awe-some Permission Slip

When’s the last time you felt awe? That wonder-filled feeling you get when you witness something that challenges your current understanding or typical frame of reference.

This could be something in nature, like looking at the thousands of stars in the sky or marveling at towering redwood trees, admiring art, or reflecting on just how incredible the birth of a child is.

We often think we have to wait for something “awe-some” to happen for us to feel awe, but we can create these moments ourselves.

One study looked at the awe people experienced while white water rafting and “above and beyond all the other positive emotions measured, [awe] predicted changes in well-being and stress-related symptoms one week later.

Did you catch that? The awe these people felt on this adventure affected their wellbeing and stress a WEEK LATER.

What if I told you you don’t have to go white water rafting but could bring some awe into your life today…by watching TV?


There was a study done in 2017 at UC Berkeley that found people who watched content from “Planet Earth II” felt “an increase in contentedness, joy, amusement, and curiosity.” The videos also “reduced feelings of fatigue, anger, and stress.”

Sounds like as great a reason as any to plop on the couch tonight!

Oh, and if you haven’t watched “My Octopus Teacher” yet on Netflix, please (please) go watch it, and come back and tell me what you thought. It’s one of my most favorite documentaries EVER, and it’s full of awe.

If getting outside is more your speed, look up at the stars. Last night I saw 5 planets lined up. Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Uranus, and Mars could be seen from anywhere on Earth, as long as you had clear skies and a view of the west.

(This is a photo I took on vacation in French Polynesia; we can’t see nearly this many stars with the light pollution in the Bay Area, unfortunately. Please play a tiny violin for me.)

So, let me know. What’s something that filled you with awe recently?

Or, what’s something you’ll do to bring some awe into your life this week?



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