A meta-analysis published in the Personality and Social Psychology Review suggests that experiencing awe helps young people focus less on themselves and more on the world around them. Exposure to natural wonders and accounts of great human accomplishments can do the trick.
It’s a helpful strategy, given that narcissism is on the rise and college students have become dramatically less empathetic over the years, particularly since 2000. Sixty-four percent of respondents ages 18 to 25 surveyed thought getting rich is their most important goal, while only 30 percent believed that helping others in need is important.
Awe humbles us in the presence of something greater than ourselves. Experiencing it during adolescence, a period crucial in the formation of self-identity, could help coax teens out of their, “I am the center of the world,” funk and put them on a path to a life lived in compassionate connection with others.