Be in Awe of Your Life and the World

Johan Versteegh
4 min readJan 25, 2021

Who doesn’t love flying?

The main experience starts when you enter the airplane while hearing this calm melody and a voice welcoming you aboard.

You look for your seat, put away your hand baggage and finally sit down while looking for the seatbelt.

Some people immediately take their book, send their last messages on their phone, or place earbuds in their ears so they disconnect from that chaos of people finding a spot for their luggage and seats.

Next, that moment arrives where the plane starts taxiing slowly towards the runway.

On the runway, it stops and prepares for takeoff.

When the plane moves with enormous velocity to takeoff, some people stop their activity to fully experience their last minutes in that city while others keep doing what they’re doing.

Most passengers sitting next to the window take a moment to look outside when the plane is ascending.

They experience this feeling of awe, this feeling of reverence and admiration for the world that is becoming smaller and smaller.

Feelings of clarity and awareness kick in, making you realize that you’re actually leaving a city and heading towards your next destination.

There are some key moments that are happening during that moment and the entire trip.

First of all, most people put their phones away.

When they do use their phone (while wi-fi is disabled), there is a clear intention behind the action.

They may change the song they are listening to, look at some photos, or play a game.

We don’t use our phones mindlessly as we are used to when we’re with both feet on the ground.

What’s interesting as well, is that people have to become creative with how they spend their time.

Some passengers play card games, watch movies on their tablets, read a newspaper, eat, or sleep.

Everyone has their own way of making the best use of their time.

It’s nice to see that some start a conversation with a fellow passenger they don’t know.

Not everyone appreciates this of course, but it is positive to see we are able to engage with one another when our phone is not constantly asking for (demanding) our attention.

What really fascinates me personally, is that because you are forced to sit still and wait, your mind travels and starts reflecting.

You’re reflecting on your new adventure, how you left that previous city, whether you will go back one day, if you have spent your time wisely there etc.

Other questions that tend to arise are more existential such as am I making the right move to go to the city I’m going to now, what do I expect from my next adventure, what do I actually expect from my own life, am I happy with my choices and what are my next intentions and goals in my life.

I guess such questions may arise because you are completely disconnected from all the noise below you on planet earth.

You are up in the air completely zoomed out from your life, society, expectations, and responsibilities.

Now there is time to think, reflect, and contemplate.

Now there is time to really go through with yourself what you want for your next steps to be like in your life.

It is really possible to completely zone out, especially when you immerse yourself in the unique view while listening to uplifting or calm music.

You are in awe of your life and the world, similar to the overview effect I imagine.

Wikipedia describes the overview effect as:

A cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space. The experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, “hanging in the void”, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this “pale blue dot” becomes both obvious and imperative.

Such feelings of reverence in the plane are not as powerful probably, but that feeling might be the overview effect’s little cousin.

You think more macro about your life and the world than micro.

Once the plane lands, the first thing we all do is take our phones and disable airplane mode.

We wait for reception and immediately check all missed notifications.

That moment of awe is gone and we dive right back into life again.

The chaos, the speed, the noise.

Try to internalize this experience of centeredness and clarity and bring it up from time to time.

Pause for a moment once in a while, and consciously experience such feelings of awe for your own life again.

Don’t allow life to push you around all the time and steal your attention.

Stay focused and intentional.

The more you respect and admire your own life and the more you perceive your life as a miracle, the more mindful and intentional you become.

The more mindful, intentional, appreciative, and aware you become, the more you are able to resist going for your phone.

You realize that life is short and that you should cherish every single day, hour, minute, and second.

Your phone has a place in your life and it is super useful, but it doesn’t deserve better treatment than your goals and nearest and dearest.

Originally published at https://www.socialmediabreakup.com on January 25, 2021.

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Johan Versteegh

I help people unchain themselves from their phones and social media. Technology is good, but we need to preserve our mind and spirit. Socialmediabreakup.com.