If you want to increase happiness and create a more meaningful life, perhaps all you need to do is seek out things that inspire awe in you. Stanford Professor Jennifer Aaker explains to Barking Up the Wrong Tree Eric Barker how feeling awe can change how you perceive and use time for the better.
The awe and time work is done with Melanie Rudd and Kathleen Vohs, and is based off of Melanie's dissertation. One reason we started to examine awe is that it is an understudied emotion — particularly relative to happiness. A second reason is that it has unique consequences. When you feel awe, you are experiencing a positive emotion that feels vast and big, and as a result is capable of altering one's view of the world. Our studies focus on the effects of awe on how people may alter their sense of time — that is, the way they perceive and use time. We show that when people feel awe, they feel like they have more available time on their hands. And as a result, they are more willing to volunteer to help others, and spend time on others. They also tend to make very different product choices, preferring experiential products over material products. They even experience a boost in life satisfaction.
Looking at awe-inspiring photos, visiting a museum or aquarium, and just generally increasing your sense of wonderment could all subtly improve your life.
Check out the rest of the interview on improving happiness (and a few awe-provoking videos) at the link below.
Interview — Stanford Professor Jennifer Aaker on how to increase happiness and meaning in life [Barking Up the Wrong Tree]