Personal Wellbeing and Awe

Personal Wellbeing and Awe

One podcast and author that has our attention this year is Dachner Keltner and his work on the human emotion, Awe. A professor of psychology, Dachner focuses on the biological and evolutionary origins of Awe and how it can transform our lives.

Keltner argues that “Awe allows us to collaborate with others, open our minds to wonder, and see the deep patterns of life.” The topic has attracted the attention of the Harvard Business Review. Their February article muses:

“If the pre-Covid zeitgeist was about ‘grit’ and ‘growth mindset,’ many of us are now seeking to unclench our minds and find greater peace.”

Dachner’s research shows that there are eight wonders of life. These connect us to vast and wondrous things that transcend us, in turn feeding our joy. These ‘wonders’ are domains that the social purpose sector excels at;  access to nature, music, art and spiritual experiences.

At the top of the list is something less obvious. Keltner calls it the wonder of ‘moral beauty’. This is the awe we feel when we watch ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and it happens regularly in our everyday lives.

Another is what he deliciously calls ‘collective effervescence’. Think of that moment in a team or Board workshop when we’re cohesive and all pulling together. We experience ourselves as part of something greater.

As leaders and managers, our understanding of the power of everyday Awe is an important lever to understand so it can support both our wellbeing and impact.

How might you support your weekly dose of awe for yourself and your people?

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