Originally Published on OpEdNews
"Why do humans experience awe? Years ago, one of us, Professor Keltner,argued (along with the psychologist Jonathan Haidt) that awe is the ultimate "collective" emotion, for it motivates people to do things that enhance the greater good. Through many activities that give us goose bumps -- collective rituals, celebration, music and dance, religious gatherings and worship -- awe might help shift our focus from our narrow self-interest to the interests of the group to which we belong."
"We found that participants who reported experiencing more awe in their lives, who felt more regular wonder and beauty in the world around them, were more generous to the stranger. They gave approximately 40 percent more of their tickets away than did participants who were awe-deprived."
-watching my kids' fascination and excitement with catching lightning bugs -- and remembering my childhood hunts for orange "kings" and green queens.
-floating on a rubber raft for miles down a stream near my grandparents house, THe cool water and warm sun were just right while I watched the canopy of light and leaves overhead.
-seeing a fellow employee after a week's vacation and giving each other a warm, happy greeting.
-seeing the dahlias begin to bloom the first year I tried growing them.
-Watching my grandfather take my children on a tractor ride on the farm, just like he used to take me
-watching my children sleep
Just as the pleasure of orgasm helps motivate the sex act for procreative purposes, heartwarming and its family of positive experiences (PEs) motivate people to achieve, create and relate altruistically in a socially beneficial way. It's no accident anti-social, cruel people are described as cold. Heartwarming and its cousins; joy, ecstasy, peak experiences, love, runner's high and laughter are the rewards for functioning at the peak of human experience. They motivate us to fulfill our greatest potential. When a scientist figures out an answer to a challenging question, the feeling of achievement, of glowing success, satisfaction and completion is the greatest reward. Positive feelings like these are the motivators of mental and intellectual progress and development, of art and creativity.
Happiness Science is just leaving the Dark Ages.
The knowledge explosion has had little effect on our understanding of happiness, heartwarming and the other positive experiences (PEs). Research on the varieties of PE is almost non-existent. There are tens of thousands of studies which have looked at illness, symptoms, or psychopathology. It's hard to find any that look at positive strengths and resources. I continue to be amazed that there is not one scientific reference to heartwarming, regardless of the technical words used. This incredible gap in our scientific knowledge about such an important aspect of humanity spurred me to do the research which led to this book. the closest descriptions of heartwarming experiences have been written by the poets and bards. That's why you'll find many quotes spread throughout the book."