We are very fortunate to live in a time when great minds have the opportunity to express themselves and be heard and understood in a global arena. This is a time, more than any other, when wisdom and knowledge can be shared. One of these great minds, who has contributed so much wisdom in his 19 published books, is Dr. Paul Pearsall. I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Pearsall at the Maui Writer’s Conference years ago, and I was taken with his kindness, and gentleness. I told him I was a “groupie” because I had read and loved all of his books! One of his books, “The Heart’s Code” I refer to often because it scientifically proves how the heart “thinks.” Dr. Paul Pearsall passed away on July 13th, 2007, two months prior to the publication of Aw: The Delights and Dangers of Our Eleventh Emotion, a book he called “his life’s work.” Here are his own words:
If awe is such an important emotion, why is this first book to describe it?
Dr. Pearsall: It’s been neglected because the pace of our modern life causes us to suffer from wide-spread ADD Awe Deficiency Disorder. Being in awe is often something we might allow ourselves as a kind of “vacation emotion,” a brief emotional buzz when we are away from our usual toxic striving and our overwhelmed mind allows us a moment of profound awareness that there is more much, much more to life than our cluttered consciousness usually has room for. It happens when we suddenly transition from experiencing (from the Latin meaning “to try”) to awareness (from the Greek meaning to “fully see.”). Awe has also been neglected because its complex, spontaneous, and mystical nature seems to frighten many researchers. Until recently with the emergence of the field of positive psychology, psychology has busied itself with concerns about our negative emotions like depression and anxiety and what is worst and broken about us more than what’s best and strongest. Studying any human emotion isn’t easy and there are many ethical considerations. You can’t manipulate peoples emotions so you have to catch them after the fact in the field and rely on reports. Awe’ the most difficult of all of our emotions to study because you can’ put a rainbow in the laboratory or your child’ first tears of joy in test tube.