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Do moments of wonder make us nicer people? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2017-11-2 16:40:02 |Display all floors

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On top of the world: a dramatic scene from the film Everest. Photograph: Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

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Post time 2017-11-2 16:40:45 |Display all floors
Towards the end of his life in 1970, the psychologist Abraham Maslow, best known today for his theory of the hierarchy of needs, considered putting self-transcendence at its top, above self-actualisation. Beyond the “merely healthy” individual, he suggested, were those who became better human beings for others as well as for themselves. And a key factor in this transition, he suggested, was what he called “peak experience”. By this he meant “rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality”.

Recent research appears to bear him out. The psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner claim to have found that experiences of awe – “in the upper reaches of pleasure and on the boundary of fear” – can lead to significant positive changes in behaviour. They monitored people on whitewater rafting trips and visits to groves of giant trees (this was, after all, California) and found that, compared to a control group, these people afterwards made more ethical decisions and showed greater generosity and compassion. “Even brief experiences of awe,” they concluded, “lead people to feel less narcissistic and entitled, and more attuned to the common humanity [we] share.” Piff and Keltner have become firm advocates of what they call “everyday awe”, and encourage people to actively seek it out.

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Post time 2017-11-2 16:41:38 |Display all floors
What we wonder at changes according to circumstances, age and culture. It may be something as apparently banal as the sounds from a rainstick. It may be the fact that, every second, billions of neutrinos (subatomic particles) from the sun are streaming through your body at almost the speed of light, and do so even at night when the sun is on the other side of the Earth and the neutrinos are passing straight through the Earth first.

Living in wonder does not change the fact that we fail, suffer and die. But it can help us to take a benign stance towards what the philosopher Roberto Unger calls the root human experience of groundlessness, which he describes as “astonishment that we exist, that the world exists, and that the world and our situation in it are the way they are rather than another way”. In doing so, we may feel a sense of renewal and act with greater care.

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Post time 2017-11-2 19:30:44 |Display all floors
The short answer is yes as it brings a person out of the egotistical realm, at least, for a time.

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Post time 2017-11-3 09:36:53 |Display all floors
Why to visit to grove of giant trees? What can be proved?

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