Cultivating awe has the potential to bring about profound changes in our lives, from appreciating the moral beauty of humanity to marveling at the splendor of nature and spirituality. However, when faced with adversity and sorrow, can awe assist us in making sense of our grief? In this moving tale, a man recounts how his pursuit of awe led him to discover a fresh avenue toward fulfillment and direction. Come along with esteemed UC Berkeley professor of psychology, Dacher Keltner, to learn more about this transformative power.
When we allow ourselves to experience awe, it enhances our reasoning, provides new insights, strengthens our sense of shared identity, and heals trauma, grief, and loneliness.Dacher Keltner
In this article based on the Passion Struck podcast interview with Dacher Keltner, I will delve into the incredible world of cultivating awe and unwrap the secrets of harnessing its transformative powers. Follow Keltner’s captivating stories and invaluable advice to cultivate awe in your daily life and watch yourself flourish like never before.
Experiencing awe through grief
Dacher Keltner’s world was shaken when he lost his brother Ralph to colon cancer, leaving him grappling with intense grief. In a bid to find solace, Dacher began exploring the concept of awe — an emotion characterized by vastness and mystery — as a way to imbue his life with a sense of meaning.
This led him to discover the transcendent power of moral beauty and the remarkable qualities of kindness, courage, and humility that dwell within us all. Inspired by memories of his childhood growing up in the vibrant, artistic community of Laurel Canyon, Dacher’s passion for understanding emotions was ignited by his parents’ love of art and literature. Today, he firmly believes that emotions serve as the language of our most important relationships.
The search for cultivating awe and moral beauty is a universal human quest that can enrich our lives in profound ways.
What brings people awe?
Keltner studied what brings people awe through the stories of people from 26 countries and speakers of 20 languages. He discovered that many people are most deeply moved by the moral beauty they see in others’ acts of kindness, sharing, courage, wisdom, humility, and perseverance.
Keltner also cited philosopher Immanuel Kant’s belief that we are often inspired by other people and can become better ourselves by being receptive to the goodness in others. This critical step of seeking moral beauty in others’ actions holds great significance for the audience, as it reminds us that even in a world where divisiveness and negativity can often feel overwhelming, there is still an abundance of goodness, kindness, and compassion to be found in the people around us.
Five Ways to cultivate awe and transform your life
By cultivating awe in our everyday experiences, we can harness its potential to enhance our overall well-being, foster deeper connections with others, and gain an appreciation for the world around us.
I’ve crafted this guide to help you embark on your own journey to discovering awe in your daily life, whether it be through exploring spirituality, engaging with art, or simply appreciating small moments of wonder. The benefits of finding awe in everyday life are immeasurable, and I hope you’ll embrace this fulfilling and transformative practice.
Marvel in our natural world
Experiencing nature, be it a scenic mountain vista or the tranquil beauty of a forest, can lead us to a deeper understanding of our own insignificance in the grand scheme of the universe. Opening ourselves to the raw, unfiltered beauty of the natural world not only feeds our senses but also awakens a profound sense of connectivity with our surroundings. This emotional response, in turn, can manifest as increased gratitude, happiness, and overall well-being.
Dacher Keltner’s perspective on awe and nature finds its roots in his research on emotions and their profound impact on our lives. Keltner emphasizes the importance of reconnecting with nature to discover moments of awe in our daily lives. Reiterating the significance of exploring the great outdoors, he shares how people across different cultures and age groups find solace and inspiration in the marvels of the natural world.
So, take a moment to step outside and immerse yourself in the majesty of nature and let the transformative power of awe work its magic.
Engage with art, music, and creativity.
Engaging with art, music, and creativity is a powerful way to foster a sense of awe and wonder in everyday life. This approach allows individuals to connect with the sublime, transcendent aspects of life, which can have profound impacts on mental and emotional well-being. Art and music have played an essential role in human cultural history, imbuing our lives with meaning and beauty that can elevate our spirits and give us a sense of purpose.
Simultaneously, creativity allows us to tap into our imaginations and explore new ideas and perspectives, which often challenges our preconceived notions of the world and leaves us in a state of awe. By incorporating artistic and musical experiences into our daily routines, we not only engage with the finer aspects of the human experience but also strengthen our connections to ourselves, others, and the world around us.
Seek moral beauty in others’ actions.
Cultivating awe and moral beauty in everyday life involves looking for moments of kindness, generosity, and compassion in the actions of others. These actions often go unnoticed, but when we take the time to observe and appreciate them truly, we allow ourselves to be inspired by the goodness in those around us.
This appreciation can lead to an increased sense of well-being, as well as serve as motivation to emulate these positive attributes in our own lives. By seeking out moral beauty in the everyday actions of others, we open our minds and hearts to the transformative power of awe, which can have lasting effects on our personal growth and overall happiness.
Recognizing and appreciating these acts of moral beauty not only fosters a deeper connection with others but also promotes personal growth, empathy, and an overall sense of well-being. We must be mindful of the awe-inspiring moments in our daily lives. They are powerful reminders of the human capacity for love, courage, and selflessness — qualities that can inspire us to be better individuals and lead rich, meaningful lives.
Reflect on life’s big ideas and questions.
In everyday life, it’s not uncommon for us to lose sight of the bigger picture and get caught up in our day-to-day routines. Embracing awe, that feeling of wonder and amazement that comes when we discover something vast and extraordinary is a way to escape the mundane and access a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. One way to cultivate awe is by contemplating life’s big ideas and questions, which can inspire us to expand our horizons and consider things that often defy simple explanations.
“It’s almost a basic state of consciousness for the human mind. It is a fundamental property of how we relate to the world — to be filled with wonder and awe.”Dacher Keltner
Keltner’s research has found that contemplating big ideas and existential questions can lead to moments of awe that not only bring wonder and delight but also foster our ability to connect with others, encourage pro-social behavior, and enhance our overall well-being. There are several domains where awe can be found, such as the moral beauty of people, collective movement, nature, spirituality, music, visual art, life and death transitions, and big ideas.
By reflecting on these big ideas and questions, we can harness the transformative power of awe and embrace a more connected, empathic, and meaningful life. Understanding life’s big mysteries and existential questions is essential for fostering awe and inviting a deeper sense of connection and meaning into our lives.
Engage in awe-inspiring experiences.
Making a conscious effort to contemplate these concepts and find moments of awe can lead to profound changes in how we view ourselves, others, and the world around us. By actively engaging with awe-inspiring ideas and experiences, we encourage personal growth, enhance our own well-being, and contribute to a more compassionate, interconnected global community.
To make the most of everyday awe, try setting aside time to ponder profound questions, dive into compelling literature, or immerse yourself in the wonders of the natural world . These moments can help to shift our perspectives and unlock the transformative power of awe in our lives.
Foster awe for a happier, more fulfilling life.
Pursuing awe and moral beauty in our lives is not just a luxury but a means to enhance our well-being and add richness to our experiences.
Keltner has provided a comprehensive roadmap for finding awe in everyday life, urging us to absorb the beauty of nature, admire moral actions in others, immerse ourselves in creative arts, delve into spiritual practices, ponder life’s significant questions, establish meaningful connections, cherish everyday wonders, cultivate gratitude, and share uplifting stories.
By following these suggestions, we not only improve our own lives but also inspire others to embark on a similar journey. Get ready to embrace the awe-inspiring moments that await you and watch your life transform for the better.
Have you tried these tactics and strategies? Share your successes and challenges with us in the comments.
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