How to Get More Energy and Reduce Your Stress with Awe

by Debbie Lyn Toomey
Author, Speaker, Coach

Santa Barbara


“You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind.
Your mind gets bored and therefore tired of doing nothing…
Get interested in something! Get absolutely enthralled in something!
Get out of yourself! Be somebody! Do something…
The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself,
the more energy you will have.”
Norman Vincent Peale


Have you ever woken up 3 hours before you were supposed to and just couldn’t fall back to sleep?

I did about a month ago. I woke up 4 AM and no matter what I did, I just could not go back to sleep. After adjusting and fluffing up my pillow to get comfortable and getting up to take a sip of water, I still laid on the hotel bed wide awake with thoughts of what I had to do that day. Although my body needed the rest, my mind was ready to go to work. It was the last day of my colleague’s retreat for speakers. I was there to assist and support her to make sure her first event was a success. Knowing that I needed my rest for my full day’s trek of wrapping up the retreat, a two-hour bus ride from Santa Barbara to LAX airport, and the red eye to back to Boston, I got more and more concerned that I couldn’t fall asleep. Nothing worked!

Awe, a Study
Resigning to the fact my good night sleep was going to have to be only 4 hours that night, I decided to get up. I got up at 4:30 AM. Not knowing what to do with myself, I decided to check my email and became inspired by one of the ones I got from Greater Good Science Berkeley. One particular article peaked my interest. It was about the art and science of awe. Scientists like Dacher Keltner have found that this new science can improve our mental, physical, and social well-being. In other words, being in awe or what I also call “wonderment” in my book, The Happiness Result, can shift our mental, emotional, and physical state from boredom to bliss. Wonderment is a combination of anticipation, awareness, and appreciation.

Energy Booster and Tension Reducer
In fact, what I and thousands of others have experienced is that being in a state of wonderment and awe can actually reduce stress and tension as it makes us curious, excited, and happy. According to “awe“ expert, Dr. Kirk Schneider, being in a state awe uplifts us, which temporarily buffers the effects of stress and worries. I found this to be true when I got dressed and headed out of the hotel at 5:30 AM to go for an “awe” walk. I needed to get rid of my feelings of tension from thinking about my full day. I wanted to find a way to shift from being worried about not having enough sleep to having fun. And what happened next caught me by surprise.

I repeated to myself that I was going on an “awe” walk to help me focus on anything that would catch my attention. With my iPhone in my hand I walked around the hotel grounds across from the beach and I was ready to take any photo that peaked my interest, took my breath away, or made me smile. With wonderment as my intention for this particular walk, I saw things that I overlooked the previous days. I saw an old palm tree branch laying on the side walk that must have been 8 feet long. Being from Boston, I was used to seeing maple leaves or twigs on the ground not palm tree branches. I must have taken 2-3 pictures of that palm tree branch just to keep it as part of my Santa Barbara trip.


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Then I came across two beautiful Bird of Paradise flowers growing behind a big tree and when I got closer to them, they looked like they were playfully peaking around the tree to say “hi” to me. Across the street on the beach were more surprises. I took my shoes off to feel the cool Santa Barbara sand on my bare feet. The shock of the cool sand made me giggle as it made me feel more energized. The beach was so beautiful as I watched the sun rising off in the distance. It was like a picture perfect scene with the sun rising, gentle waves, and a couple walking along the beach. It was definitely a “Kodak moment” as we used to say growing up. The scene took my breath away! Of course, I took many pictures of that beautiful moment on the beach to bring back with me. The pictures that I took in my “awe” walk are definitely worth a thousand words.

How about you?
Next time you need a bolt of something different try adding more wonderment into your life. Here’s how:

1. Create an intention to add more “wonder” or “awe” into your day.
2. Decide how long you will do it for.
3. Bring your smartphone or camera to view people and things through a new lens and fresh eyes.
4. If you have are having a difficult time looking for something interesting, then you are looking too hard.
5. Start by noticing what is in front of you and lean in to get a closer look.
6. Once you find someone or something that makes you say “Ahh…” or “Awe” or “Wow”, take a photo of it.
7. Then look at the photo and compare it to what is actually in front of you.
8. Ask yourself if you really captured the feeling that you wanted to with your photo. If so, move on and look for the next thing. If not, re-take your picture until you get an image that makes you smile inside and out.
9. Optional, show others your picture to spread the good vibe.

Interested in more simple ways to add happiness and wonder to your life, contact me at [email protected] today. Also, if you have other ideas on how to add more “awe” and “wonder” into your day please share your comments below. Thank you.