Awe: Your Elixir of Wonder & Well-Being

As we welcome a new venture or even a new day full of hope, possibility, chaos and uncertainty, may you walk with awe and curiosity. And may it enrich and uplift your goals, intentions and dreams. 

A Tonic of Well-Being and Wonder

Awe is an elixir of well-being and wonder, a balm for the beleaguered soul, and as noted in the New York Times article How a Bit of Awe Can Improve Your Health, a salve for the turbulent mind. The article suggests that awe might be the new sixth emotion that activates the vagal nerve connecting our head, heart and gut as one.

Physiologically, the benefits of awe include a slower heart rate, better digestion, deeper breathing and increased oxytocin (the love hormone).

Awe also roots us into the expansiveness of the moment, dissolving our polarized and reactive responses. We connect from the outside in, experiencing our smaller selves connected to the greater whole and gaining a greater sense of emotional well-being.
 
And there’s more! Psychologically, awe helps soothe our critical voices and negative self-talk by deactivating a part of our cortex connected to how we perceive ourselves.
 
Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg calls awe the “absence of self-preoccupation” that unhooks us from cultural norms of shame, blame, self-criticism and an unrealistic achievement drive.  

The Benefits of Awe in the Workplace

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you might be saying. Great. I’ll add awe to my morning cup of coffee and afternoon walk. But, at work, really???
 
Yes, at work, and there’s a lot of research out there on this.
 
In the article Four Benefits of Bringing Awe to Work from the Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership, the author begins with an inquiry that had me laughing:
 
So imagine someone follows you around all day and records your every word.  What might they hear? If you are like most of us, likely a lot of mumblings about scarcity – not enough money, time, energy, focus, motivation and resources for your goals, needs, dreams and longing.
 
The author then continues:

If We Were to Allow It, the Surprising Benefits Might Include: 

⭐Reducing anxiety about the scarcity of time

⭐Strengthening our connections with others

⭐Enhancing our critical thinking by sparking our curiosity and perspective-shifting

⭐Promoting altruistic behaviors

Moral Beauty: Awe and Altruism

Awe and altruism? Most of us readily recognize the awe and grandeur of nature, travel, music and art. But what about the awe of moral beauty, which is recognized as exceptional virtue, and character, along with goodness and purity in intention and action?

In the article What’s the Most Common Source of Awe? a research project of 2,600 people, located in 26 countries and speaking 20 languages revealed that the greatest source of awe is witnessing the acts of kindness people took on behalf of others. Which then, in turn, feels so good to see that we are inspired to greater altruism and goodness for all. 

In summary, a whole lot of goodness awaits in the emotion of awe. May Awe walk with you as a trusted partner, and may you welcome it more fully into your life and workplace. 

To your good health, always, inside and out!

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