How is your morning routine going, Dear Educator? Have you noticed any changes? And did you decide on a word to guide you? (You can read January’s post here for more on these ideas.)
Another way we can care for ourselves and soothe our soul during troubled times is to focus on our perspective. What is it that we are choosing to see? This might sound like the proverbial ‘cup half full,’ and it is, but it is also so much more. Are you consciously looking for awe?
In 2016, I had the amazing fortune to take a trip to Iceland. It was a bucket list item to see the Northern Lights, and though we had a few brief showings, what the rest of the country revealed to us was a profound lesson in the power of awe and its impact on my overall well-being.
At every waterfall, open landscape, and bend in the road, I remember being completely overwhelmed with the natural beauty before me. At one particular moment, I was looking up at a glacier on top of a volcano that led to a black sand beach before the ocean. As I stood there, I was completely overcome with the sense that my problems really mean nothing in the greater scheme of things. It was one of the most powerful perspective shifts I have ever experienced.
This article published The Greater Good reviews the book, Awestruck by Jonah Paquette, which discusses exactly this phenomenon:
“𝘞𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢𝘸𝘦, [Jonah Paquette, author] 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘴, 𝘸𝘦 𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘢 “𝘴𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧”—𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘦𝘨𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘳, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘴, 𝘩𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘱𝘶𝘳𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘦𝘯𝘷𝘪𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘶𝘴.”
But wait, there is more:
The benefits of awe:
*Awe decreases stress levels
* Awe increases generosity and kindness
*Awe makes us happier and more satisfied with life
So, how do we do it?? Here are the 6 ways Paquette recommends:
① 𝐋𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫: Don’t just rush past the sunlight on the icicles. Pause and really appreciate the prisms it creates.
② 𝐒𝐥𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧: I am in an online trivia league with some friends, and I used to read the questions while I ate lunch. This month, I am separating the two activities. Each deserves my full attention.
③ 𝐀𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐬: This is also a good anxiety reducer. Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, notice 5 things you see, 4 things you smell, 3 things you hear, 2 things you taste, 1 thing you feel.
④ 𝐔𝐧𝐩𝐥𝐮𝐠: Really. Just do it.
⑤ 𝐀𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐥𝐤𝐬: Out with the dog? Look for the small elements of nature that inspire you.
⑥𝐀𝐰𝐞 𝐣𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠: Like a gratitude practice, but this asks you to think back on your experiences with awe-inspiring places.
For me, that trip to Iceland and hiking in Argentina come to mind immediately.
This month, I challenge you to be on the lookout for awe. If we change the way we look at things, we will see awe all around us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
With more than two decades of experience in education around the globe, Kristen Moreland is committed to bringing humanity back to education. A former middle school English teacher and Instructional Coach, she is currently serving as the Director of Teaching and Learning for the Littleton Schools in Littleton, New Hampshire. You can follow her on Twitter @kmorekin and on Instagram @educatorsforhumanity