Finding the ultimate secret to long-lasting health and happiness is top of many people's to-do lists. It's a challenge to know exactly what the magic formula is.
One such person who has been intrigued by this is psychologist Dacher Keltner from the University of California. He directs the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab and has written books including The Power Paradox (about gaining and losing influence), Born to Be Good (on living a meaningful life) and Social Psychology (exploring human behaviour).
In 2013 he decided to launch a three-year research project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation. It has become one of the largest of its kind, exploring 'awe' and how it makes us feel. The conclusion of his study found that the feel of being 'awestruck' - of having your breath taken away by something so amazing or being left speechless by how incredible something is - may well be the secret to ultimate health and happiness.
This intense emotion comes when we feel as though something we are part of or witnessing is vast beyond our human scale - that it transcends any current understanding we have of things. Maybe it is seeing one of the natural wonders of the world, such as Mount Everest in Nepal, the Northern Lights, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia or the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It could be a shooting star, the experience of giving birth to a new baby, a magical sunset, or it could be something much more every day - for example, an act of kindness or generosity, or feeling really great thanks to warm weather or beautiful backdrops.
In past research, the focus of scientific study has been predicated upon the emotions of sadness and happiness, fear and anger, disgust and surprise. Awe has had far less attention - but it is now believed to be intrinsic to human life. It connects humans together, ensuring our survival. It helps us to realise that we are part of a bigger picture and offers greater perspective to how we think. It offers us an overview of life - a global consciousness.
In making us more attentive and alert to what is around us, it also helps us to become more present. It helps us to become more in the moment, which in turn enables us to feel happier, less stressed and act more generously. It also has the potential to heal.
So when it comes to turning that frown upside down, the answer is to find something so awe-inspiring and amazing, that you can feel nothing but happiness. Get outside, find something amazing and let it transform your mood entirely.
If you want to gain more insight into how you can build on your global consciousness come to one of our events.