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Posted on 07-23-2017
An Awesome Antidote to Polarization
by Kirk J. Schneider
We live in polarized times. The current polarization of the American electorate and federal government is rooted in “the polarized mind”, a fixation by individuals on one point of view that excludes differing views and provokes intolerance. Complex issues become black and white, and those with differing views or lifestyles are demonized. Beyond politics, this is seen in gun violence and terrorism, corporate abuses of health and safety, and religious and ethnic strife—affecting major aspects of our daily lives.
An antidote to polarization is awe—the wonder of being alive; living life with hope, respect, humility, wonder and a deep reverence for the adventure of living.
Psychology experiments at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, have shown those that practice awe are better able to see outside their own experiences and appreciate other points of view, which can transcend the tunnel vision and pettiness of a polarized atmosphere. Here are some basic steps toward cultivating a sense of awe:
Psychologist Kirk J. Schneider, Ph.D., is past editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, president-elect of the Existential-Humanistic Institute and adjunct faculty at Saybrook and Columbia universities, in New York City. His books include Awakening to Awe, The Polarized Mind and The Spirituality of Awe: Challenges to the Robotic Revolution. Visit KirkJSchneider.com.
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