Goose Bumps are Awe-some

goose bumps,portrait,woman

Why Do We Experience Awe?’ by Paul Piff and Dacher Kelner:

…We humans can get goose bumps when we experience awe, that often-positive feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world…Why do humans experience awe?

..awe imbues people with a different sense of themselves, one that is smaller, more humble and part of something larger…even brief experiences of awe, such as being amid beautiful tall trees, lead people to feel less narcissistic and entitled and more attuned to the common humanity people share with one another. In the great balancing act of our social lives, between the gratification of self-interest and a concern for others, fleeting experiences of awe redefine the self in terms of the collective, and orient our actions toward the needs of those around us.

You could make the case that our culture today is awe-deprived. Adults spend more and more time working and commuting and less time outdoors and with other people. Camping trips, picnics and midnight skies are forgone in favor of working weekends and late at night. Attendance at arts events — live music, theater, museums and galleries — has dropped over the years…

We believe that awe deprivation has had a hand in a broad societal shift that has been widely observed over the past 50 years: People have become more individualistic, more self-focused, more materialistic and less connected to others. To reverse this trend, we suggest that people insist on experiencing more everyday awe, to actively seek out what gives them goose bumps, be it in looking at trees, night skies, patterns of wind on water or the quotidian nobility of others — the teenage punk who gives up his seat on public transportation, the young child who explores the world in a state of wonder, the person who presses on against all odds. All of us will be better off for it.

Read entire op ed essay here: ‘Why Do We Experience Awe?’

Credits: Photo – Géraldine Hofmaier


  1. This is fascinating, David, and something I am thinking more about. I have been reading Eckart Tolle’s work and endeavouring to be more awestruck by the beauty of each ‘now’ moment. It was when I was in this state of great contentment when, last week, I was visiting my husband, Anthony, in the nursing home where I have also worked for nearly 6 months, but not in his section, when I was suddenly hauled into the office by management and told my work was unsatisfactory and accused of all sorts of ridiculous things. I have actually been bullied into resigning! So I am trying very hard now to figure this out whilst still trying to be in the now – impossible atm but it is nearly dusk and I will go outside and breathe in the awe of my surroundings. So sorry this is such a long reply but I guess I am a bit traumatised! Julie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I often experience awe when I visit here, David. That’s a good sign, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    I feel awe and experience goosebumps …. while listening to good music!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic post…I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My moments of awe, re nature, are the inspiration behind my haiku poems. Awe is such a healer.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting post, goose bumps like the sixth sense makes us alive and human. Love your blog! Melody

    Liked by 1 person

  7. i hope to never be awe-deprived.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been noticing this withdrawal from awe for several years and decided to do a preface on awe for my newly published book From Faith to Faith, As We Live in the Spirit. I agree whole heartedly with the authors that awe “imbues people with a different sense of themselves”. In my experience it seems that more often than not that new sense is one of removal from the need for such ‘ordinary’ inspiration, which contrary to what one might expect, moves that person away from such need as unnecessary. In this time of self-satisfaction, narcissism and even ‘please mother, I’d rather do it myself’ attitudes, many prefer to think nothing surpasses ‘self.’ To a large extent I believe this is why so many are losing the ability to be awed as it requires humility and submission to God as the Creator, whether one is viewing the beautiful sphere that hangs on nothing in the heavens (our world), or gazing with rapture at snow-capped mountains, a field of flowers or experiencing the awe as you hold a new-born.

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  9. Awe-some post
    I mean that. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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