“Awe Walks” promote Awesome Smiles

This week’s Friendly Friday Challenge: SMILES could be hard if you don’t normally take pictures of people. Maybe, it’s time for a walk.

According to a study published in the journal Emotions, researchers found that a trip through nature — like a forest or park — can boost positive emotions and promote wider smiles.  

In the study, which looked at the mental health of older adults, 60 participants in California were asked to take 15-minute walks every day for eight weeks, with some assigned to awe walks and others who weren’t given instructions about where to walk.

People who responded to survey questions in the awe walk group reported an increased sense of wonder about the world around them.

The researchers found these positive emotions were even reflected in people’s selfies, where participants had “measurably broader smiles.

Awe “is an interesting emotion, because it promotes what we call a ‘small self,'” said lead author Virginia Sturm, an associate professor … at the University of California San Francisco. 

“What that means is that when you feel awe, you feel smaller in relation to the larger world and the universe around us … yet more connected,” she said. All of the problems we perceive to be “really overwhelming, when we take a step back and look at [them] in this bigger perspective, they seem kind of smaller.”

Getting into nature could benefit your mental health during the pandemic“, CBC News · Posted: Oct 02, 2020 

Not so long ago, I had an awesome walk through a rainforest bog.

It was a bright Autumn morning and I was visiting Half Moon Bay on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. The route to a popular look-out was through a rainforest bog. The bog offered a different view of the normally lush and green forests. Here large swatches of trees were stripped bare, skeletal trunks standing sentinel along the boardwalk. It had been a cold night and a thin layer of frost coated the wooden planks. Leaning over the side, I wondered how deep the water was. Not too deep I think. Shallow enough for the surface to freeze at night and break apart at day light.

After the boardwalk, a quick climb up and down took us to the shore line. It was a pretty enough look-out, one of many along the coast and a popular spot for sailing boats. As a landlubber though, I’ll always remember the awesome walk through the forest bog.

Have you had an awesome walk recently? Maybe it’s time for another … and while you’re there, feel free to take a selfie 🙂

Photos taken on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada.

Coincidentally, shortly after I published, Amy issued Lens Artist Challenge #117: A Photo Walk! What do they say about great minds? 🙂


  1. A great walk, Sandy, and wonderful information about the benefits of getting out in nature. The Sunshine Coast is beautiful. I especially love the shot of the boardwalk and the copse of trees. I’m glad you shared this walk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for dropping by Patti! The Sunshine Coast is very pretty. When I first heard the name I thought it was in California but it is a part of scenic British Columbia. I’m glad you enjoyed the walk.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great minds indeed sandy! So glad you decided to join the challenge with your beautiful images. And I especially loved your header image. What an amazing place it seems. I totally agree about awesome walks being really helpful to our state of mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful set of “a photo walk, Sandy”. The boarderwalk is so nice, I’d enjoy walking there.
    A virtual walk here does promote awesome smiles! Thank you, Sandy for taking us there! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve only seen Halfmoon Bay from the water when I was on a sailboat. We anchored in the wonderfully named, and very secure, Smuggler Cove. I’m totally with you on awesome walks. I think my most memorable one this year was when I saw the colorful pahoehoe lava that I posted for a previous Friendly Friday Challenge back in March of this year. That was awesome, not just for the lava, but because it was completely unexpected.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was going to say a little about Smuggler Cove but decided to save it for next time. Glad to hear that you sometimes sail up to Canada Graham. If you ever go exploring the SW side of Vancouver Island, let me know and I’ll wave from my balcony 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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