How we experience awe -- and why it matters | Beau Lotto and Cirque du Soleil | Summary and Q&A

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How we experience awe -- and why it matters | Beau Lotto and Cirque du Soleil

TL;DR

This content explores the concept of awe and its impact on the brain, discussing how it can lead to increased creativity, risk-taking, and empathy, and suggesting that awe could be used to facilitate conflict resolution and toleration.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is one of our greatest needs for our brain?

One of our greatest needs for our brain is closure. We have a fundamental need for closure and we love it. This need for closure leads us to dislike uncertainty and not knowing.

Q: What is our greatest fear?

Our greatest fear is the fear of the dark and uncertainty. We hate not knowing and the unknown. Our brains have evolved to predict and make assumptions based on past experiences. We project meaning onto objects and other people based on our biases and assumptions.

Q: How does our brain respond to uncertainty?

When we step into uncertainty, our bodies respond physiologically and mentally. Our immune system can start deteriorating, our brain cells can wither and die, and our creativity and intelligence decrease. We often go from fear to anger because fear provides a sense of certainty.

Q: Why is awe important?

Awe is an incredibly important experience that has profound effects on our brain. It is a brain state that downregulates the prefrontal cortex, upregulates the default mode network, and changes the activity in our brain. Awe makes us feel small but connected to the world, increases prosocial behavior, decreases the need for cognitive control, and increases appetite for risk.

Q: How can awe be used to facilitate toleration and understanding?

Awe can be used to facilitate toleration and understanding in conflicts. Instead of entering conflict with the aim of proving the other person wrong and shifting them towards us, awe enables us to enter conflict with a sense of humility, uncertainty, and a willingness to seek understanding rather than convince. Art-induced awe has shown promising results in mitigating anger and hate, making it a powerful tool for promoting toleration.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Awe is a brain state that downregulates the prefrontal cortex and upregulates the default mode network, leading to increased creativity, decreased need for cognitive control, and a greater appetite for risk.

  • Experiencing awe can lead to increased prosocial behavior and a greater affinity towards others.

  • Awe can be used to enter conflict in a different way, with humility and a willingness to understand others, and has the potential to mitigate anger and hate.

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