Recently, I decided I was using the word “awesome” far too much in my everyday speech. I thought I was probably being lazy about my vocabulary, caught up in an annoying trend, and beginning to sound like an overplayed record.
I just received an uplifting e-mail from one of my hiking buddies; the subject line was “I think this is what keeps you so healthy J.” It contained a link to New York Times columnist Gretchen Reynolds’ March 29, 2015 article entitled “An Upbeat Emotion That’s Surprisingly Good for You.”
A recent study examined the positive emotions responsible for lower levels of inflammation associated with better health, including awe, amusement, compassion, contentment, joy, love, and pride. The study concluded that awe was the strongest predictor of lower levels of inflammation, and thus a strong correlation exists between the experience of awe in particular and good health.
I have noted to my doctor that the best “medicine” in general seems to be exercise, and for me, my weekend hiking in particular. On these expeditions, I am often in a state of childlike wonder, from the vista of downtown LA skyscrapers emerging from the “marine layer,” to the brilliant purple and yellow and orange wildflowers springing up in a mountain meadow, to the little spotted lizards crawling around the flowing springs among the boulders we climb.
In short, these days I find myself in a frequent state of awe. And I feel good.
Isn’t that awesome?
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