Awe and Wonder Prime Physical Health: Healthy Benefit to Experiencing Emotions
Two related studies from the University of California, Berkeley, suggest that the act of admiring the beauty of nature with awe and wonder can decrease inflammation in the body.
More than 200 adults reported their experiences of emotions on a particular day, including amusement, awe, compassion, joy, contentment and pride. Samples of the subjects’ gum and cheek tissues were analyzed for cytokines, and the researchers found those that cited emotions of awe, wonder and amazement had the lowest levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6).
UC Berkeley professor and co-author of the research Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., says, “That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions—a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art—have a direct influence upon health and life expectancy.”