One of the easiest ways to shift out of drama is to look for more mind-blowing, awe-inspiring experiences each day. The spine-tingling feeling of awe connects us with something bigger than ourselves. When we’re in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) our focus is on “me” rather than “we” and the world around us. It is easy to become self-centered and, at our worst, even narcissistic.
Awe is a unique emotional sensation that can transform drama into empowerment in the blink of an eye, but only if we pay attention.
“Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast or beyond human scale, that transcends our current understanding of things,” says Nobel Prize winner, psychologist Dr. Dacher Keltner.
Awe might arise as a sudden sensation of the extraordinary when you gaze upon a newborn baby, look at the stars on a clear night, or drink in the view from a mountaintop. Other times the awe experience might be the cuteness of a new puppy, a wonderful painting, or the smell of a fragrant rose. Prayer and meditation can also create unity and the awe experience.
A few years ago, we were snorkeling in the warm blue waters off the shore of a Caribbean island. Suddenly a camouflaged fish emerged from the white and black speckled sand right in front of Donna. The perfect synergy of warm water, beauty, and a gorgeous fish was a lasting awe-struck experience that still gives her goosebumps.
With attention going to phones, TV’s, and computers, some people have convinced themselves that life is about being entertained every moment and feel bored if they’re not looking at a screen. Boredom is the estrangement from all the wonder that surrounds you.
How does awe help transform drama and boredom?
- Awe promotes curiosity. When faced with something that blows your mind, you want to find out more information. You begin to wonder about things you don’t fully understand and, when you are curious, your interest in listening and developing caring relationships increases as you explore your new interests.
- Awe transforms negative emotions. Unlike the drama emotions of fear, pride, or anxiety, which trigger your “fight-or-flight” response, awe interrupts those emotions and encourages you to stop and think about the unity experience you are having. Pausing is one of the most important steps to give you the possibility of shifting out of the DDT. When rushing around or looking at your phone, there’s little energy left for natural awe moments.
- Awe increases feelings of generosity and empathy for others. It is not possible to be stingy and generous at the same time—or self-centered and empathetic at the same time. Connecting with awe makes it easier to genuinely connect with others.
- Awe alters your body and promotes health. Research shows that awe plays a role in health and healing, lowering blood pressure, and building a stronger immune system. Experiencing awe-inspiring moments in nature has been successfully used to treat veterans returning from war who are suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
When was the last time you had an awe-inspiring moment?
We encourage you to create at least one mind-blowing moment each day. To do this, reflect upon what creates awe and wonder for you. It may be listening to a beautiful symphony (for David, its listening to Pink Floyd’s greatest hits).
Maybe your mind-blowing moment is in nature. It doesn’t have to be a grand forest. Simply looking at the veins in a fallen leaf can connect you to the extraordinary. For others, wonder is found in the gaze of a child’s eye.
If you look, there are boundless opportunities to experience mind-blowing moments each day. The power of awe can truly transform your drama and dissipate boredom in an instant.