“When we feel awe we suddenly feel feel like we are part of an integrated community…it is a compass…of bringing back meaning.”
- Dacher Keltner
In the early days of We Are Stardust I sought advice from someone big in the London art and science scene. After I'd told him about my work his verdict was: “I can't help you right now but keep doing what you're doing - it's cute.” (watch me talk about this on Instagram - you can see how much it still riles me all these years later!)
Now, I like cute things but coming from him it felt like a patronising slap in the face. That what I was trying to do at We Are Stardust - encourage wonder and awe as we navigate life - was a very sweet add on but not really important.
Life at the moment is up and down (read about the discomfort and transformation I felt during 2022) - are we OK? I'm not sure. I feel like we are only just beginning to understand how the last few years of societal turbulence due to climate change, political instability and pandemic are affecting us. Some days I feel great, others I really don't.
In a recent On Being podcast on “The Thrilling Science of Awe” Krista Tippet and awe scientist Dacher Keltner talked about how in this age of hyper individualism and loneliness the emotion of awe can bring back meaning and community.
Awe is when we feel a sense of wonder, an experience of mystery, that transcends our understanding. Science is now showing that moments of awe “are as common in human life globally as they are measurably health-giving and immunity-boosting. They bring us together with others, again and again. They bring our nervous system and heartbeat and breath into sync — and even into sync with other bodies around us.”
Dacher and his team found that one of the greatest triggers of awe was witnessing and being part of a collective human experience - through movement, music, experience. Next, was the feeling of being part of something greater than ourselves when we witness awe in the more-than-human world. What if we combined these? Experiencing awe collectively with the more-than-human world?
“I think awe is a direct pathway to addressing these social crises of our time…it activates this old evolved sense that I'm part of an ecosystem. I should care for the air and the other beings around me.”
- Dacher Keltner
So I will no longer feel like what I do is an unimportant add on to our lives. Science is now catching up with what I think we know deep down - that community, creativity and awe brings us joy and meaning.
Everything I do at We Are Stardust is to make it as easy as possible for you to make time and space for bringing more awe and wonder into your life.
This week, how can you bring a moment of collective awe into your life?