Why Awe Is at the Core of Your Life

March 11, 2014 by John Andrew Williams

Thought of the Day: Awe is at the core of your experience of Life

Williams James, a professor of philosophy and psychology at Harvard University, was perhaps the world’s first Life Coach (He is also considered “the father of American Psychology”).

He called himself a pragmatist. The ideas of pragmatism – especially the proposition that an idea is proved to be “true” if it is useful in life – are incredibly close to Life Coaching’s concepts. One of those core concepts is to get beyond should and shouldn’t and look for what’s useful versus useless.

What’s the relationship between awe, religion and pragmatism?

For William James, our perception of awe is a central difference between having a healthy-soul versus a sick-soul. And being that Psychology literally means ‘study of the soul’ and goes back to ancient Philosophic debates about the nature of the soul and its appreciation of beauty, it seems that awe is at the center of each of these discussions.

The sense of awe that you feel in nature or in church or in community gives rise to a relationship with divinity as well as a healthy relationship with your psyche and life.

In other words, awe is pragmatic. It points you in a higher direction, helps you make wiser decisions, and leads to thoughts that include the greater good for a greater number of people.

Yeah, I know I’m waxing philosophical, but I’m also expressing through scholarship what I’ve experience this past week. It seems that when I peel away the layers of everything else I’m thinking or feeling, awe is at the center.

Peel back the layers of thought and emotion and you’ll arrive at awe.

Try it.

It’s the coolest thing. It’s also an idea and experience that people have been talking about for thousand of years.

And I may have been a little hasty to crown William James the world’s first Life Coach. Perhaps first Life Coach belongs to Socrates. The world’s first Life Coach is for a future blog post.

For the now, I’d love to know your thoughts about awe as being the center of your life.

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