BIPOC woman walking through a field of flowers going about her day stopping and admiring them.

Let's Get in Awe

Heart failure has caused many of us to slow down, as we no longer have the same level of functionality as before. For instance, I have less energy, and the activities I engage in are often lower impact. Additionally, I have fewer financial resources, and my eating restrictions mean that certain activities, such as eating out or going for drinks on a Friday night, are no longer feasible.

Essentially, life has become much simpler after my diagnosis. However, I know that I am not alone as reduced energy levels, stepping back from stressful careers, and monitoring our diets are common among people with heart failure. Trying to cultivate a sense of awe has helped me, and I hope that thinking about this overlooked emotion may help others.

Grief and heart failure

Firstly, I would be remiss if I did not add that coping with heart failure involves dealing with a significant amount of loss. In my experience, grief cannot be avoided, and it is crucial to fully grieve your loss to find contentment.

I cannot say what this entails, but if thinking about a Plan B makes you feel overwhelmed, then it may be necessary to consult a mental health professional and consider whether you are ready to move on. From personal experience, I think that you need to know yourself and recognize when you are ready to challenge your thinking or when you are not. Accepting where you are with grace and compassion is key.

What is "awe," and how can it help me?

When you are ready, what is awe? In my opinion, the emotion of awe is a mixture of great respect, amazement, fear, and surprise. When I think of awe, the word "reverential" comes to mind.

For me, it is a feeling that things are much larger than my own little world and that I am truly connected to the world around me. Although awe is often accompanied by faith, I believe that you do not have to be religious to experience awe for the natural world or the community around us. A sense of awe, at least for me, brings peace and reduces stress. However, it can be challenging to slow down enough to fully appreciate what is around us and to take the time to learn.

Finding gratitude in the little things

I feel a sense of awe when I see a beautiful sunset, experience nature, or learn something new about the human body or the planet. There are so many interdependent systems within the human body and nature that can evoke awe. I also feel awe when I experience or witness genuine kindness from others.

As a person with heart failure, I believe that most of us have experienced acts of true kindness. If we focus less on ourselves and more on how we are experiencing the world, there is a significant amount of awe to be found. Have you ever experienced awe or thought about it? Please share your experiences.

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