When you feel more awe, one of the ten positive emotions for human wellbeing identified by positive psychologist Dr Barbara Friedrickson, you “open up to new possibilities and ideas.” 
We feel awe when we encounter “beauty or goodness on a grand scale”  or another definition, “Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.”
We can feel awe in everyday life, as well as in the extraordinary.
I experienced it this morning when I was out having a walk. After days of monochrome, it is a jaw-droppingly beautiful, bluebird day. And, I am filled with awe. Breathing in awe. Finding stillness. All my senses opening up to the sunshine.
I wasn’t unhappy when I left the house, but I’m definitely happier as I slow down and allow myself to take in everything around me.
Awe as a Trigger for Sustainable Action
A key trigger for feeling awe is being in nature, exploring it, watching it, learning about it.
Surely then, creating opportunities for young people to feel more awe by connecting to Nature, is a crucial part of empowering them as agents of change, able to take action to solve sustainability challenges.
Why? Because it builds the point of empathy that they are part of an ecosystem, not separate from it. It connects them to their creativity as they explore the phenomenal interconnectedness of the world around them, inspiring them to be problem-solvers.
How can you build more awe?
I create ‘change-maker spaces’ where I get children and young people to play with ideas, taking a challenge from one of the Sustainable Development Goals and exploring how to solve it with them.
As they research, I’m getting them to connect to awe, to be amazed at the elegant solutions that Nature already has in place and getting them to use all of this to inspire their innovative problem-solving.
Experiencing awe then, allows us as individuals to feel more positive emotions. Not least, I think, because using it in the context above also inspires hope – another of the top 10 emotions - that we can take positive, affirmative action for the planet.
Protecting the planet is to be our best as humans and we need to give young people hope that they can and do have a positive impact.
Studies have also shown that experiencing awe, prompts greater kindness and “leads people to cooperate, share resources, and sacrifice for others, all of which are requirements for our collective life.”
When we help others, we feel happier. It is an ingredient in our own fulfilment. Action for Happiness identifies “Do Something For Others” as one of its 10 Steps for Happier Living.
Making awe the lens that you look through, placing each of the unique humans that you are with into the global ecosystem, opens up a sense of vastness and value for their problem-solving creativity.