The Kingdom of Awe

A blog about finding the wonder in life

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This Is Why Being Powerful Isn't Good for You

It’s really true. The more wealth or power you have the less you understand the world around you.

Multiple studies have been conducted on the negative effects of power on the brain.

Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, has shown that being powerful can disengage your prefrontal cortex and vagus nerve, parts of the brain and nervous system that help you understand how others are feeling.

Other studies have shown that higher levels of wealth and economic influence lead to correspondingly lower levels of empathy and compassion.

Another fascinating study has shown that the higher economic status of a subject, the less likely they are to experience emotions of awe and wonder.

Is it any wonder why many of the most powerful leaders, directors, professors, actors, artists, investors, etc. often seem out of touch or unconcerned with the world around them?

Is it any wonder why billionaires like Jeff Bezos would spend billions of dollars on joy rides to space when that same wealth could help wipeout extreme poverty or malaria?

Happily, studies have also shown that there are important things you can do to avoid the negative effects of wealth and power, including:

1) Give money, do charity work, and/or help others
2) Learn new skills or knowledge–anything that forces you to become a novice again
3) Seek out experiences of awe and wonder in the world around you

What’s great about this list is how useful it is for everyone, wealthy or not. It provides a set of priorities for your life to make sure you are always fully engaged and understanding of the world around you.

And all it requires is that you continually give, learn, and experience.

For me, that’s the perfect formula for a life well-lived.

Happy Friday everyone!

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