In my book "Being Happy" awe is defined as, "the feeling in the presence of something greater than the self, achieved from high, expansive vantage points. Encountering views that are extraordinary, inspiring acts."
Last week I experienced just this feeling throughout one of my favorite 'special places.' The Sequoia National Park. It is a very charming place I travel about two hours away from home to experience. The drive up is challenging with all the hair-pin turns. However, the pay out for the drive is really fun.
My usual hike is from the top of the General Sherman Tree trail entrance all the way down to the base of the tree which it is named after. The reason why, is because the total length of the trail represents by foot how tall the tree is in length as well. Then, after this I like to walk along the Congress Trail and see all the other Sequoia trees as well. To list a few, President Lincoln, General McArthur, President Kennedy and many more.
"The subjectives feeling of Awe is very pleasant, it's calming and it pulls our attention away from the self and toward the world around us."
Awe really tends to be felt in my life when I see these amazing natural wonders of the world. It has always been a hilarious joke from the Austin Powers movie when the line, "I'm bigger than you, I'm higher up on the food chain," does have some kind of irony when looking at Sequoia trees. Indeed, they are bigger than me, and if you need to feel like the size of an ant seek no further. Which I believe in my heart is where awe really does its business. Standing next to a great tree like a Sequoia helps me remember my stature as a person is smaller to something else alive. It is always calming to me to see a gargantuan tree and think to myself these few thoughts:
"This thing has been here longer than I have. It's strong, been through a lot in its life. I can do the same too."
We may think at first, 'it's just the Sequoia trees, what is so mystifying about them?' However, like most things it is about the experience of seeing, existing and challenging ourselves in where we all fit into this complex world we live in. Awe in itself helps us center our thoughts by challenging what we already think we know.