Category Archives: Terminology

“Experiences of the Human Spirit”


I have struggled mightily with what to use as a general term for the type of experiences I’m studying and hoping to develop design concepts for products that can support. Initially, Mark (my PhD supervisor, but regular readers of this blog will know that already :-) and I referred to them as “spiritual and numinous experiences”, but too many people thought “spiritual” implied religious (so I had to explain that) and not enough people had even heard the word “numinous” (which is OK in academia but not in general life). More recently I’ve been saying “spiritual experiences, which doesn’t necessarily mean religious but could also involve nature, the universe, etc.”, but that’s just too long and it also sounds defensive.

Then I’ve listed the various phrases that people use to characterize these experiences:

  • spiritual experiences
  • peak experiences
  • mystical experiences
  • numinous experiences
  • experiences of awe and wonder

Too much explaining!


Just a few days ago the perfect term came to me: these are experiences of the human spirit. The title of my research, after all, is “User Experience and the Human Spirit” (which I came up with almost four years ago, when I started exploring the path that this blog covers) — and it’s only my subtitle that uses more specific terms. Amazing that I didn’t think of this sooner.

Fortunately, it’s not too late to use it. I’ve got my Second Annual Review meeting this coming Monday, and I’ll float it to my panel then. (Mark already called it “Nice!” :-) But I really do think it’s perfect.