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Live Bright Now

written by Candra Canning

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.    ~ Albert Einstein

Along with us on our San Juan Quest was Candra Canning, Founder of Live Bright Now, a leadership and coaching consultancy that helps people Live their brightest lives!  Candra shared the new neuroscience of the emotion of AWE with us and we proceeded to have an AWE inspiring week.

What is AWE?  AWE is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world, causes you to adjust or expand your perception. Early in human history, AWE was reserved for feelings of religious divinity, but in 1757, Irish Philosopher Edmund Burke detailed how we feel awe not just during religious ritual but in everyday perceptual experiences like hearing thunder, being moved by music or seeing repetitive patterns of light and dark. AWE was found in everyday life.

Today there is new evidence coming out, that of course AWE arises from the extraordinary like viewing the Grand Canyon, or seeing an Orca whale in the San Juans   but more frequently though, people report feeling awe in response to more everyday mundane things like seeing the leaves change from green to bright orange in the Fall or seeing a stranger give food to a homeless person. This is great news for all of us as everyday AWE has its benefits.
In our 24 X 7 connected world, plugged into our devices, we need to remind ourselves to look up, breath in and experience AWE!  Now more than ever we need to unplug, go outside,  join a Women’s Quest trip and allow our systems to reset.

There is new research being done at the UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center – by Drs Dacher Keltner Doctor of Psychology and John Haidt of New York University that indicates that daily doses of AWE have a powerful effect on the nervous system and your health and well being.
When was the last time you were in AWE? If a memory immediately jumps to your mind, lucky you.  If not we’re going to lie out some ways to cultivate awe to make you healthier, happier and more connected.
Lets see what the science says.  AWE makes us….

Feel connected and happy! 
Awe makes us feel connected to something larger than ourselves and evokes feelings that may be especially helpful when people are feeling bogged down by day-to-day concerns. Research suggests that awe has a way of lifting people outside of their usual; more narrow sense of self, relieves negative moods and improves happiness.

ME to WE
We tend to like ourselves, that big important I.  In the presence of AWE – we become smaller and our ego can back down.  We move from ME to WE… an important persepective for a happy family or team.  In various studies the scientists asked people “what is running through your mind when you feel awe”?  They say things like “I want to make the world a better place, or I just feel like being quiet”.   AWE makes you humble and curious about the world.

Sometimes it can feel like we are fixated on our personal concerns without much regard for other people. Experiencing awe can jolt us out of this self-focused mindset, stirring feelings of wonder and inspiration by reminding us that we’re a part of something larger than ourselves.

Healthier and less stressed
The neuroscience of AWE includes reduced Inflammation. AWE modulates pro-inflammatory cytokines, proteins that tell the immune system to work harder… which can cause problems which can result in heart damage, diabetes, Alzheimers, depression. We get a shot of dopomine (the same chemical we produce when we fall in love)  when we have an awe inspiring experience.

Antidote to burn out
AWE is a stress reliever and can make us slow down and appreciate the world around us and our place in it. AWE can help you relax and not take yourself so seriously.

6 Ways to Cultivate AWE in your Life
1. Begin a daily practice – Using the 3-step AWE-method

  • Arrive- get present
  • Access- Open your heart, mind, body, soul
  • Anchor- Hold the feeling and take it with you

2. Go outside often

  • Walk in nature and let yourself feel AWE
  • Leave your devices behind and just be present and look
  • Look once, look twice and look a third time.  Notice

3. Allow yourself to be amazed

  • Awe is a mindset… It is an adventurous attitude toward living.
  • Experiencing awe may seem like something that requires travel to distant lands, but there are many opportunities closer to home, seek them out and notice.

4. Get out of your comfort zone

  • “Sometimes we have to travel to the edges of ourselves to find the center.”
  • Outside the comfort zone is where the AWE happens

5. Savor the beauty and let it sink in
In Rick Hanson’s book Just One Thing– he shares that Scientists believe that your brain has a built in negativity bias,( Baumeister study in 2001). We evolved to watch out for danger so we wouldn’t get eaten by saber tooth tigers. We are no longer running for survival, but our brain still reacts more to negative stimulus.  Scientists have proven that painful experiences are usually more memorable than pleasurable ones.  By tilting your brain toward the good- you can level the playing field.

Look for the good- look for any fact in your life that is good- actual and true.  LET YOURSELF FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT.  We often let good pass right by us.  Let the good facts effect you.  Do it at least 6 times a day.  Let it sink in for10, 20 30 seconds.  Soften and open up to the experience.

Be aware of any reluctance towards positive experiences. ( thinking you don’t deserve it) If you feel good, you might lower your guard.  Drink it in.  The longer you hold this awareness, the more emotionally stimulating it is the more the neurons fire and wire together… and the stronger the trace in your memory.  Taking it in, you will feel better inside… You will be less fragile and needy.  You happiness will become more unconditional, increasingly based on inner fullness, rather than external conditions.

6.  Be in Awe of yourself
Give yourself a break and sometimes take a moment to realize your accomplishments. When you are having a bad day, literally stop and reflect on all of the accomplishments to date. Practice.   People forget how far they have come and it will serve you well to give yourself a little credit. Try it and see if it doesn’t give you added energy and a sense of possibility to tackle even your stickiest problems.  It is not in our nature. But being in AWE of yourself is a great way to build your resilience.  You can allow yourself to be proud and use it to build you up for the next big challenge.
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Special 15% off offer for Women’s Quest
Candra is offering 15% off life and leadership coaching with Live Bright Now,
Helping People Live Their Brightest Lives .
Email candra@livebrightnow.com and put Women’s Quest in the subject line to receive discount.  Free complimentary intro session.