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According to Albert Einstein, “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” New research might prove him right…

A study recently published in the journal Emotion outlines an experiment in which participants who said they experienced feelings of awe on a regular basis had lower inflammation markers. These markers, or cytokines, normally help fight infection, but at sustained high levels they are associated with serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. (Of course, correlation doesn’t prove causation – but it’s still interesting!)

Psychologists also say that being in awe benefits us by encouraging collaboration with others rather than withdrawing, as is more typical for people with prolonged high levels of cytokines. The bottom line: being awestruck more often might actually promote better health!

So, how can you discover more awe in a less-than-awe-inspiring daily routine? Experts say you can experience this positive emotion more frequently by looking at your favorite painting, taking in the beauty of a starry night sky, or even walking in nature and feeling wonder at the harmony around you. By absorbing these breathtaking moments and viewing the world with more admiration, you may actually be reducing stress and acting more generously toward others – two great side effects of being awestruck. Thanks for the tip, Einstein!

Image: Imagine, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Tony Fischer’s photostream.

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