Awe: An overwhelming feeling of reverence, humility, or wonder in the presence of something profound, vast, or beyond comprehension.
The vastness of the universe is awe-inspiring. Given that, everything in the universe has the potential to produce awe, as soon as we expand our point of view to include how much we simply do not know.
While the universe is awesome, everyday annoyances aren’t. But they can be. How do we turn our problems into a wondrous state of awe and what would happen if we did? Let’s explore some ideas.
How to Create Awe Within Yourself
Everything is potentially awe-inspiring because everything knowable is an inseparable part of the vast, unknowable universe. When we’re upset about anything, we’re grossly unaware of how much we don’t know, in favor of absolute certainty about that which we believe we know (which is the object of our annoyance).
Knowledge requires reducing the universe into something that fits into our consciousness. To gain and claim any kind of certainty in our knowledge of anything, we must conceive it in our minds. This process of mental representation reduces a vast amount of knowledge into 7 +/- 2 chunks of information.
We can only be aware, at any given time, of a laughably tiny bit of data. Hold a phone number in your mind. Now think of a different phone number and the name of your best friend. What happened to the first phone number?
How does the capacity of our conscious mind stack up against the amount of data in the universe? Words cannot describe how limited our minds are in this respect.
Stunningly, when we’re sure of our beliefs and knowledge, we speak as if we were Gods of Absolute Truth! Well, that can be useful. Confidence is a good thing so much of the time, right?
But when is such certainty a detriment to well-being?
When it compromises our well-being! Worry about that which you cannot control, for example. When worried (even though you may simultaneously dispute the worry) part of you is convinced something bad is going to happen. If it were so certain, there would be no cause for worry. Perhaps concern, but not full-blown worry.
When you fear rejection, part of you is convinced that you’re going to be suffer that humiliation. Again, if you thought. “Rejection? Maybe I’ll get rejected but maybe I won’t. I can’t predict what will happen,” then you might want to put your best foot forward but you could do so without fear.
Fear is knowing – or convincingly believing – that the object of your fear is certain. We imagine the fated results in horror and take steps to avoid even putting ourselves in situations where the inevitable happens.
When you fear speaking in public, part of you obsesses about how you’ll look like a fool and be laughed off stage. Fear is the result. If you weren’t convinced, you couldn’t be afraid.
What have we learned so far?
Our knowledge is severely limited.
When we suffer, it’s because we convince ourselves (know) that something bad is going to happen. Or has happened. Or is happening.
As a reminder, knowing something requires holding it in our puny minds, which requires deleting an infinite amount of knowledge. In this sense, knowing is the same as not knowing. In order to know one thing, we must ignore a multitude of things.
Knowledge and ignorance go hand-in-hand. One requires the other.