The Transformative Power of Awe

Listen 49:24

It’s the goosebumps you get at the crescendo of your favorite song; the stupefying wonder that comes with witnessing a birth or a death; the astonishing mystery we feel when gazing at the vast night sky. This is awe — a complex, often overwhelming emotion that can elicit everything from pleasure and connectedness to a crawling sense of uncertainty.

Moments of awe can create unforgettable memories — and they can have a lasting impact on our minds and the way we interact with others.

One of the leading scientists studying awe is Dacher Keltner, a University of California, Berkeley psychologist, who’s dedicated the past 15 years to investigating the origins and effects of this emotion. On this episode, we talk with Keltner about his new book “Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How it Can Transform Your Life.” He discusses his own, very personal experience of awe amid profound grief, the ability of awe to transform our experience of the world, and how we can cultivate awe on a daily basis. 

We also hear from listeners about their experiences of awe, and listen back to a story about how voyages to space change the way astronauts perceive life, their relationships, and Earth as a whole.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

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