Why Diabetes Care Should Include A Daily Dose Of Awe
Feelings of awe will not magically normalize our glucose levels, but awe seems to reduce the inflammation in our body now associated with many chronic illnesses, including type 2 diabetes.
The effect of awe is not surprising since we know health is a state of being that’s constantly influenced by our emotions. While positive emotions are associated with wellness, continual feelings of sadness, fear, anger, jealousy, or shame have a negative impact on the body.
This is why forgiveness, and experiencing difficult emotions without holding on to them helps us thrive. We can also cultivate well-being by engaging in activities that inspire uplifting feelings.
The Awesomeness of Awe
Specifically, we may want to cultivate the feeling of awe as often as possible—and two University of California-Berkeley studies tell us why.
In these two complementary research scenarios, college undergrads were first questioned to determine their emotional state, and then had fluid samples taken from their inner cheeks (oral mucosal transudate [OMT]). The OMT samples were subsequently checked for interleukin-6 (IL-6), a marker for immune system related inflammation.
The researchers determined that:
- Positive emotions (awe, amusement, compassion, joy, contentment, love, pride) are all associated with lower levels of IL-6, indicating less inflammation.
- Feelings of awe, wonder, and amazement have the strongest correlation to lower IL-6 levels.
- Only the degree of awe turned out to be a predictive factor for IL-6 levels.
Feelings of joy, pride, and contentment are also strongly linked to low levels of IL-6, but awe is by far the strongest predictor.
This amazing health benefit of awe begs the question, “How can each of us best generate amazement to optimize our immune system, reduce inflammation, and enhance our overall well-being?”
The answer is regularly doing whatever causes us to say “wow,” takes our breath away, lights-up our face, lifts the heart, or delights the mind. It might be good conversation, a sense of belonging, playing with children, listening to music, time in nature, volunteering, caring for animals, a good book, inspiring poetry, spiritual insight, dance, baking, artistic endeavors, science discoveries, or athletic achievement.
Whatever activities tickle our sense of awe we need to make time for, because waiting for awesome moments to spontaneously occur may not generate enough wonder to sustain us—or positively influence our health.
A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful implanted in the human soul.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe