A sunset on the coast

Bring Inspiration to Staff Meetings

Staff members watch a video of “awesome” nature and share their physical, emotional, and/or mental responses to the video.

Level: Adult
Duration: ≤ 15 minutes
My Notes: Add/Edit Notes

Planning For It

When You Might Use This Practice

  • When staff members are feeling a high level of stress
  • To inspire a sense of connection among staff members
  • Before brainstorming a new project or solution to a problem
  • To help educators tap into their purpose as education professionals


Time Required

  • ≤ 15 minutes




Learning Objectives

Staff members will:

  • Experience the vast diversity and beauty of nature (or other topic, depending on the video)
  • Develop their self-awareness by reflecting on their internal response to the experience, e.g., emotional, physical, mental
  • Shift their perspective about the world, reduce the importance of everyday concerns, and/or renew their belief in human potential (note that not all staff members will experience one or more of these things)


Additional Supports


Character Strengths

  • Awe
  • Wonder
  • Joy


SEL Competencies

  • Self-Awareness
  • Social Awareness


Mindfulness Components

  • Open awareness

How To Do It

Reflection Before the Practice

  • Take a few minutes to watch either the suggested video in this practice or a video that you find awe-inspiring.
  • Notice how you feel both during and after watching the video. Did you have any physical effects? Did it shift how you feel? If so, how? Do you notice whether you have a different perspective on your place in the world? Do your everyday concerns seem less important? Do you have a renewed sense of human potential?
  • Prior to using this practice with staff members, consider whether this practice privileges your values over theirs in any way. For example, if you see nature as a source for awe, do all your staff members have safe access to nature? What might your staff members find awe-inspiring?

Before you begin:

  • Note that this video is just one example of a visual experience that can elicit awe; there are countless others, and being exposed to them can have similar effects. The videos and other stimuli that inspire awe tend to share two key features:
    • They involve a sense of vastness that puts into perspective your own relatively small place in the world. This vastness could be either physical (e.g., a panoramic view from a mountaintop) or psychological (e.g., an exceptionally courageous or heroic act of conscience).
    • They alter the way you understand the world. For instance, they might make your everyday concerns seem less important, or they might expand your beliefs about the reaches of human potential.
  • Also note that not everyone feels awe, and that’s okay. If staff members don’t have a reaction, let them know that there is nothing wrong with them. Some researchers think that the ability to feel awe depends on your personality, e.g., openness to new experiences, social class, or your ability to handle ambiguity.
  • One final note: research has found that cultures respond differently to awe-inducing stimuli. Please be sensitive to your staff members’ cultural backgrounds prior to showing this video.


Introducing and watching the video:

  • Set aside four or so minutes at the beginning of a meeting to have staff members watch the video. Put the video in full screen mode and invite staff members to give it their full attention. You might ask them to notice how they feel both during and after watching it.


After watching the video:

  • Give staff members a few minutes to discuss with a partner what they felt while watching the video. You might ask them whether their response was physical (e.g., goosebumps—a common awe reaction), mental (e.g., they felt small in comparison to the size of the world), or emotional (e.g., tears, a warm feeling in the chest). Be sure to validate the experience of staff members who didn’t have any kind of reaction.
  • If you have a few extra minutes, ask partners to share a time when they experienced awe. What happened? Who was there? How did they feel? Did it change their perspective on the world?
  • Invite staff members to share their responses with the whole group, including those who didn’t feel anything. To accommodate those who didn’t have a response, you might ask them to share a time when they felt amazement or wonder or surprise.



  • If you have extra time, invite educators to share ways they can or are already incorporating awe into their lessons.



Melanie Rudd, Ph.D., University of Houston

Reflection After the Practice

  • How did your staff members respond to the video? Did you notice whether their thinking broadened? Did they mention feeling part of something larger than themselves? Did their stress levels reduce? If you were using this video prior to brainstorming a new project or solutions to a challenge, did you notice whether staff members were more engaged in the discussion?

The Research Behind It

Evidence That It Works

In three experiments, participants were induced to feel awe—such as by watching an awe-inspiring video—as well as other emotions. People who experienced awe felt that they had more time available to themselves, were less impatient, were more willing to volunteer their time to help others, preferred having positive experiences over material products, and reported greater life satisfaction.


Why Does It Matter?

It’s easy for educators to feel bogged down by daily routines and concerns, stifling their sense of creativity and wonder. Feeling awe can reawaken those feelings of inspiration—and give them a renewed sense of purpose in their work.

Awe is induced by experiences that challenge and expand our typical way of seeing the world, such as walking in nature, creating music with others, learning mind-expanding ideas, hearing about the works of great people—and, as many educators have told us, experiencing childbirth. Research suggests that awe has a way of lifting people outside of their usual, more narrow sense of self and connecting them with something larger and more significant. This sense of broader connectedness and purpose can help relieve negative moods and improve happiness.

“I think this is how we’re supposed to be in the world—present and in awe.”
–Annie Lamot
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