“Whether witnessing the spectacle of the Northern Lights, gazing at the Grand Canyon or hearing a sublime piece of music, the experience of awe quiets our self-interest and amplifies our desire to give, to sacrifice, to be generous … to give part of ourselves … to give greater meaning to our time on earth.”
When I heard these words on the radio recently, I thought of one person. David Archuleta.
The person who spoke them was Dr. Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at University of California, Berkeley. He’s the director of the Greater Good Science Center at USC Berkeley and author of the book Born to be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life.
Dr. Keltner’s research shows that experiences of awe and wonder do much more than make us smile and feel content. They also “inspire feelings of gratitude” and motivate us to be kinder, gentler people — to reach out to help our fellow man and woman.
He refers to these “awe” moments as “high wattage experiences that transcend the self and energize us in the pursuit of a meaningful life and support of the greater good.”
Sounds like a David experience to me. In fact, listening to the interview with Dr. Keltner, I kept thinking back to when David first sang Imagine on Idol. I remember him talking about being blown away by the overwhelming response to the performance and how everyone who thanked him for it seemed to use the same word — inspiration.
And week after week of AI7, and afterward, the magnitude — and manifestation — of that inspiration hit us. Stories came flooding in of all the ways fans turned the awe-inspiring experience of David’s singing into benevolent action by rallying to support a slew of good causes. And this was long before David had mentioned his own involvement with any specific charities.
“That feeling of euphoria that touches you through his music encourages you to look at yourself and look at the world and seek that feeling in your own life by doing what is right.”
I think Dr. Keltner would agree. According to his research, during an experience of reverence and awe, the self-interested part of our brain turns off and we expand outside the self — in these moments we transcend the self and reach out to connect to one another, to our community.
That would explain why, after a David concert, I feel an overwhelming sense of connection, not just to other David fans, but to the universe, the galaxy … I feel like hugging the whole world.
Tomorrow night (April 22), David will sing two songs at the BritWeek Gala Dinner for Sir Richard Branson. Proceeds from the Gala will benefit Virgin Unite and Save the Children.
We might not know what songs he’ll sing but we do know he’ll leave every person there in awe. Their hearts will open like flowers, toward the loving warmth of the sun.
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