The Brain

Awe Is More Powerful than You Think

October 19, 2022  • Aspen Ideas to Go

So much of adult life is about learning the rules and then using those rules to navigate the world. We become certain that we know what we know — that we’re right, and we’re safer and more secure that way. But certainty, argues neuroscientist Beau Lotto, might actually be one of society’s biggest sources of emotional and physical unwellness. Certainty causes us to have less humility, less creativity, and less tolerance for difference. But occasionally, something amazing knocks us out of those patterns — we’re awestruck. Is it possible to use awe as a tool to make us more open, tolerant people? In Lotto’s talk from Aspen Ideas: Health, he walks us through how that effect actually works in our brains, and shares what he’s learned from researching the topic at his Lab of Misfits, where he’s founder and CEO.

“Aspen Ideas to Go” is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute. For a curated listening experience, subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or find an archive of episodes here


As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Aspen Institute is nonpartisan and does not endorse, support, or oppose political candidates or parties. Further, the views and opinions of our guests and speakers do not necessarily reflect those of the Aspen Institute.