Ep. 105: Dr. Jonah Paquette — How to Find Awe in Everyday Experiences


My guest this week is psychologist Dr. Jonah Paquette. We focused on his new book, Awestruck: How Embracing Wonder Can Make You Happier, Healthier, and More Connected. Jonah and I explored what awe is and what causes it, and how we can cultivate more experiences of awe in our everyday lives, even in situations that seem anything but awe-inspiring. These experiences have everything to do with attention, and with waking up to what it means to have what we call an “ordinary life.” Topics we touched on included:

  • The awe-inspiring total eclipse of August 21, 2017
  • What captured my guest’s imagination’s about awe
  • The seminal article on awe by Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt
  • What awe is: vastness plus a reevaluation of our assumptions
  • Finding awe in everyday experiences
  • Training ourselves to recognize opportunities for awe
  • The awe experiences that kids often have
  • Overlap between beginner’s mind and being awestruck
  • Inviting awe by coming into the moment
  • The pre-conditions to awe
  • Individual differences in awe proneness, and in where we find awe
  • The benefits of experiencing awe
  • Why awe can kindle feelings of kindness
  • The links between awe and spirituality or contact with the Divine
  • Overlap between near-death experiences and awe
  • My guest’s transformative experiences of awe
  • The value in writing down and savoring our awe experiences
  • An exercise in experiencing the vastness of the human population
  • The staggering improbability of any of our being here

Jonah Paquette, PsyD, grew up in Brooklyn and completed his undergraduate degree at Columbia University, and then traveled across the country to do his doctorate in psychology at the PGSP-Stanford Consortium in Palo Alto.

His training includes extensive study in positive psychology, which makes a lot of sense given his focus on awe.

He is currently the assistant regional director of mental health training at a large HMO in the Bay Area, and he provides trainings, consultations, and seminars on topics related to wellness, happiness, and reaching your full potential.

In addition to Awestruck, Jonah is the author of Real Happiness, a self-help book offering seven proven paths to happiness and well-being, as well as The Happiness Toolbox, which provides an array of tools and handouts for both readers and practitioners.

Find Jonah online at his website and on Twitter and Facebook

Links to books are Amazon affiliate links. 

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