I ran across this Berkley-based website today that offers many easy-to-read summaries on research about feeling good: The Greater Good Project
In one study, researchers induced feelings of awe in participants by showing them video clips of people encountering tremendous things like waterfalls and whales. A comparison group were shown other video clips. Those exposed to the awesome videos reported feeling they have more time in their life. Another study found that people who experience awe in their life donate more time to charities, and are more patient.
A study by Dacher Keltner, a professor at Berkley and his colleagues elsewhere found that:
Researchers enlisted 119 students… [and asked them to report if they had recently felt… ] seven specific emotions: awe, amusement, compassion, contentment, joy, love and pride. The students also provided a saliva sample… the more frequently someone reported having felt awe-struck, the lower the IL-6…. …a molecule known to promote inflammation throughout the body… awe isn’t necessarily a rare occurrence… On average, the students in the study reported feeling the emotion three or four or more times a week.” (reported in the NYT Weekend Magazine by Gretchen Reynolds, 3.29.15, p 26).
So, go take a hike!