Keeping the Awe!

Hi readers! I am back from blogging dormancy… Your girl was busy ‘Phd-ing’ et cetera, et cetera… 😀

I was recently introspecting about ways in which I can boost my motivation to do my PhD, especially at the times when I feel down and uninspired. Of course setting research goals such as publishing can definitely drive me to spend more time in the office and lab. But besides setting goals, both short term and long term, what else should I be doing to encourage a more energized and positive perspective toward my work?

And then it just occurred to me one afternoon whilst I was sitting on my sofa in the living room, unashamedly one of my favourite spots to exist… usually in a horizontal orientation parallel to the lengthwise plane of the sofa. What? I forgot this is not an academic paper.

Anyways, it occured to me that I have to be more conscious of my mindset. My mother has always said that one of the secrets to living long is to keep the perspective of a child. And in this context of research motivation, this statement resurfaced in my head with a more weighty meaning than just a platitude. Is being like a child the secret to longevity of research satisfaction and happiness?

But what does ‘being like a child’ mean? What aspect of a child’s outlook should I adopt?

A sense of wonder. 

A sense of wonder toward science can often be stultified in a research environment. The routine of work and constant academic information consumption can sometimes make the process, dare I say, boring. And the quest for only positive results can make anything else seem useless, such that failure becomes a vain character in the mind. A comparison of one’s own research to that of colleagues and more esteemed collections of work can also result in feelings of inadeqaucy. And all these distractions make an unhappy scientist that is very negative about their research importance and their own abilities.

So I think it’s crucial to take a step back… way back. What does the big picture tell me that can put my many distractions into perpective?

Everyday in the lab, the techniques that make my research possible are truly amazing. How did people figure out how to build machines that can see down to the nanoscale?! How can we detect things on the scale that we cannot even see?! And we have these computers that do calculations and simulations for us that a single human brain cannot even fathom! And the list of awesomeness is neverending. That I am able to put some of these impressive feats to use for my own research is worth celebrating.

With this in mind, I want to consciously remind myself that the privilege of understanding should not be correlated to the downfall of awe because there is so much to be amazed by.

My research or your research may not be leading to the the advanced technology that is so sensationalized in Hollywood, where scientists have super fancy labs and the science process is rapid.

But real science today also has the wow factor. And it is so important that researchers, myself included, remember to keep that sense of wonder for what we are able to achieve in our day-to-day work.

Wow should be alongside Why in our everyday vocabulary.

Thank you for reading!








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