Evidence That It Works
One study of a diverse group of 254 undergraduate students found that exposure to a nature video that elicited awe compared to a nature video that elicited amusement or a neutral video led to a decreased sense of self, which was then related to greater generosity.
Another study with 1,108 participants from the U.S. found that people who experienced a greater connection to nature only experienced greater well-being when they also reported a tendency to notice the beauty found in nature.
And finally, researchers had 353 youth from the Netherlands (ages 8-13) watch a video clip that prompted either joy, awe, or a neutral response. Those who watched the awe video showed greater prosocial behavior, donating their experimental earnings towards benefitting refugee families. In addition, they had greater parasympathetic nervous system activation—the system that calms us down.
Why Does It Matter?
Not only is teaching children about life cycles and the concept of wabi-sabi a great way to help students experience awe and an appreciation for the beauty of the messiness and impermanence of life, but it can also help students begin to make sense of why someone they cared about might have passed away—an aspect of life that is only too real.
Teaching young people about the concept of wabi-sabi might also help reduce pressures of perfectionism that many students struggle with, which have been made worse by the rise of social media. It may also help students feel more connected to each other, fostering a sense of greater belonging in the classroom, by turning their attention away from themselves towards the needs of others.