Take it in: The science of awe

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the winter 2023 issue of ASU Thrive magazine.

Want to add more happiness to your life?

Take some advice from Associate Professor Michelle “Lani” Shiota, who researches the science behind awe and other positive emotions.

Shiota says a way to improve mental health is to cultivate the feeling of awe. 

“Awe is that feeling you get when you perceive something as extraordinary — something so different from what your mind is used to that it stops whatever it was doing to pay attention. It’s great for giving our racing thoughts a break, and putting our day-to-day hassles and demands into perspective,” she says.

“You don’t have to go to the Grand Canyon to experience awe. Just go to new places nearby, and look at what’s around you with fresh eyes. Even stopping to take in our incredible Arizona sunsets can evoke a moment of awe.”

Read more about Shiota's work on the impact of awe.

Top photo by Sabira Madady/ASU