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AWE Yields an AWESOME Return on Investment

by Judy Ryan

“Awe is in you and surrounding you all the time, but it you don’t know how to access it—even if you’re living a good life—you may feel unhappy, anxious, or depressed.”
“In many situations—intimate relations, times of stress, feeling overwhelmed— presence can be more effective than working harder to resolve an issue.”
­— Jake Eagle and Michael Amster, Authors of the Power of Awe, Overcome Burnout & Anxiety, Ease Chronic Pain, Find Clarity & Purpose—In Less Than 1 Minute Per Day

We rarely think of awe as an investment that yields a return and yet it does, big-time. In the book, The Power of Awe, the authors share that to induce a state of awe can take as little as 5-15 seconds, and is called micro dosing awe. They cite two studies: one with Covid 19 healthcare workers and one with those suffering chronic pain. They documented what happened when each practiced A.W.E. (Attention, Wait, Exhale and Expand). The outcomes were very positive. Over time, practicing awe increases, and begins happening spontaneously.

While I was reading The Power of Awe, I heard a story about Byron Katie, Speaker, Author, and Teacher. In it, a man put a gun to her stomach and threatened to kill her. Here’s a transcript of an interview with her about this:

Interviewer: “How did you stay so calm when someone pulled a gun on you?”

Byron Katie: “I didn’t want to miss what could be the last few moments of my life.

This might be the last beautiful face I ever see. Also, wouldn’t it be silly of me to worry about me when he was the one with the problem? I did think, “I hope he doesn’t do this to himself.” To harm another human being is to really feel bad about yourself. Guilt is not a happy way to live. Also, I didn’t want to miss being with the stars, the sky, the moon, the smell of water and plant life. It was an amazing moment, just like this one now with you.”

Interviewer: “How did you know what you were going to do and say in that situation?”

Byron Katie: “I didn’t. I don’t plan my words or actions; it isn’t necessary. I just can’t know what’s going to happen next in my life, just as you can never know, and that’s what makes life SOO exciting. That’s why I say, “Love is the power.” To be authentic is to love yourself, to love others, to love the situation, and to be present and aware in the moment (which is the only place you can be), is to understand that love is the power you can trust.”

I refer to the work of LifeWork Systems as practical applications of love; a set of common concepts, terms, tools, and strategies that expand human potential and allow extraordinary results. Overall, we are promoting awe. We promote presuming everyone is great. Astronomer Carl Sagan gets this. He once said:
“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

What relevance does this have to do with you, your work, and your life? As I reflect on the awe Byron Katie practiced in her extreme situation, I am certain that living this way makes us better for ourselves, for others, and to others. Awe is contagious because it IS love, AND it IS practical, including when we are leading others. Sharon Salzberg, a leading mindfulness teacher and author, sees awe as a vehicle to quiet our inner critic. Awe, she believes, is “the absence of self-preoccupation.” Imagine how powerful you are when you focus on what is awesome in people and projects and purposes, because you are also in awe of you! Do you see how beneficial the returns on this investment? What I value about the Bryron Katie story is that we do not need only pleasant situations like beauty, nature, or good food, to practice awe. In fact, it is when things are darkest (like being held up at gunpoint) that awe is the most powerful. Remember this when you wish to create ROI.

Judy Ryan (, human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Join her in her mission to create a world in which all people love their lives. She can also be reached at 314-239-4727.
People hire LifeWork Systems because we help businesses become agile and manage their priority system: their human system. I hope this article helps you make sense of what’s most crucial to your evolving organization!

Submitted 32 days ago
Categories: categoryThe Extraordinary Workplace
Views: 102