Awe - the secret to health and happiness?
"Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast or beyond human scale, that transcends our current understanding of things," says Dacher Keltner from the University of California. In 2013 Keltner's lab began "Project Awe", a three year research program.
The study discovered that feeling awe is a positive emotion that most strongly predicts reduced levels of cytokines, a marker for inflammation that is linked to depression. A reported 75% of feelings of awe were inspired by the natural world, suggesting there is a strong link between nature and health. Recent studies have linked exposure to nature with lower blood pressure and even stronger immune systems. The researchers questioned if a lack of nature, access to natural beauty and less opportunities for feeling awe might add to the stresses and health damage that can come from urban living.