Memories of Awe Episode 17

Liz wanted to focus today’s interview on what Professor McKown had frequently referred to as every day awe. The stories he shared were about everyday people, but what they accomplished was far from ordinary. She also wanted to explore how he had retained so many of these stories in his memory.

LJ: I need help. How can I begin to experience the everyday awe that you so often talk about?

KMcK:  Good question. I’m certainly no psychologist or neuroscientist. What I’m going to share with you is just based on my own experiences.

I think every day awe begins with your mindset. You need to believe in goodness. You need to be emotionally affected when you see acts of kindness. You need to think of what you might be. I sense that you have that mindset. What do you think?

LJ: I do believe that I am ready for awe on most days, but not always.

KMcK:  That’s natural. I’m the same way. What I do is to listen to music that inspires me or read an uplifting story. What really helps me is to capture stories of awe in writing. That’s what I did when I was experiencing a serious health issue.

LJEven if I have the right mindset, I still don’t have the range of daily experiences you have.

KMcK:  Yes, yes you do. You are just not looking for them. Have you ever looked closely at a leaf and thought about the pattern of veins in that leaf?

LJI haven’t. How would that bring about awe?

KMcK:  Connect that pattern to connections you want to make in your life. Then you will see how to start on your own experiences. I bet if you look closely at anything in nature you will be awed, and it will expand your thinking about your life’s journey.

LJ: But that doesn’t solve the issue of how many people in your daily contact?

KMcK: You can find contacts by volunteering at a nursing home, a hospital, a homeless shelter, or a youth center. I recommend you read Rough Sleepers by Tracy Kidder. There are lots of ways to build awe connections.

LJ: Thanks, this really helps a lot. I still want to probe how you remember these awe experiences, but we’ll do that in a future interview.

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“Train yourself to be in awe of the subtle, and you will live in a world of beauty and ease.” –Rodney Yee (yoga instructor)

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