Skeptics Rock! They’re the ones that challenge the status quo. They question authority. They call out B.S. on the many over-hyped claims out there, including calling out B.S. on people who are not far from my own field of interest—being happy. Being a skeptic myself, I keep my teaching grounded in science. Some happiness promoters have an unhealthy prescription of being happy regardless of the very real suffering we sometimes face. Full points to the skeptic who expects more than fluff to feed their personal development.
However, in all this praise of the skeptical mind there is a common blind spot and it can ruin your bliss if you ignore it. Today, I’ll provide a little guidance for getting out from behind your blindspot. Skeptics are smart. They use their powers of rational thinking to demand quality information before taking any action. But what if there are critical things to experience that defy rational explanation? What if some of what makes us feel our best is outside of concepts that can be explained with words?
In a previous post, I explained the 10 emotions that fall under the umbrella label—happiness. (You can see it in the link below). One of the 10 emotions of happiness is “awe”. Awe is that slack-jawed, gob-smacked, stunned recognition of something amazing—it truly stops-you-in-your-tracks and takes your breath away. Do you see how awe defies explanation or adequate description with words? We’ve all experienced awe. Often it’s a sight in nature that is awesome—like looking over the Grand Canyon for the first time. Less frequently, but equally special, we are sometimes struck by a truly exceptional human performance. For example, when we hear a musical masterpiece or see an athletic feat so perfect and unexpected that it leaves us speechless. Again, note how it defies the tools of our rational minds—words are never adequate to describe something awesome. We try. We describe our experience and we usually end by saying “you had to be there!” Inevitably words fall short of the experience. They profoundly miss the mark.
Instead, the only way to share awe is to have had the same experience. To be struck similarly by something that truly left you silent in awe. And, even then, the extent to which we can verify the relevance and power of the shared experience will be limited by our inability to describe it. Awe isn’t rational science. It just is what it is. So what’s the point? I’ve described this experience of awe because we all know it. And we also can all readily admit it defies the tools of understanding that are the hallmark of skepticism. Why does this matter? Because to be truly happy, to get the full meal deal, to get it all and raise your positive energy to its maximum height, we have to transcend the limitations of the rational mind. We have to experience spirit. The positive psychology literature is abundantly clear that people who are openly “spiritual” are happier because of it.
I’m not telling you to believe in this or that god, Gaia, sources of power or any other woo-woo idea. I’m saying that if you only contend with ideas you conjure up logically in your mind then you sort of have your head up your ass. You cannot see the real BIG picture from there. We have to be open to something more. To the mystery that is life. To the potential for serendipity. To your highest self being beyond your body and mind. If you want some rational ways to consider your own openness to spiritualism, see the link below to an excerpt on spiritualism from my best-selling book.
It is my life’s mission to help the world be a bit happier. Please share this post and you will make the world happier too.
Until next time, I am your Happiness Expert, Paul Krismer!