“This is cool!” “Amazing!” “Unbelievable!” “I’ve never seen anything like this!” We know when we’ve been wowed. Hit by a spectacular, impressive, marvelous, sensational, out-of-category, world-class experience. Absorbed in a compelling event or defining moment.
When awe fills the mind, we understand that life is experience more than anything else. What we encounter is our life. So we search for these magical moments and ecstatic events. We chase and crave them. It’s no wonder the experience economy is exploding. We want wow, now!
Luckily, the wow effect is not just rooted in huge happenings and classy concerts. Even the tiniest events can have a profound impact on us, like an unexpected act of kindness, a personal note from a colleague, or loving attention from a friend. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, just noticed and valued.
External events can trigger a wow moment, and so can the inner events created by your thinking. For most of us, an untapped potential is waiting just outside the normal awareness span and everyday tunnel vision. The trick is to slow down, become aware, move attention inside, and create space for some thought spotting and mental sightseeing.
In normal fast-thinking mode, anticipations are met and beliefs confirmed. Not in reality, but in replay. Mental movies constantly run across the screen of consciousness to predict outcomes and prepare the reaction. The source of experience in this trance state is unconscious and automatic processes based on pattern recognition and brain networking.
If we look deeper into these processes, we discover that the neurological origin of experience has at least three layers, characterized by their speed of processing:
- The super-fast reptilian complex, in the lower part of the brain, controlling the fight, flight or freeze reflex.
- The semi-fast limbic system, situated in the midbrain, regulating emotional reactions.
- The slower prefrontal cortex, the base of cognition and volition.
Any experience is made from the bottom up. It originates in the reptilian complex. When the first physical reaction is launched as an impulse to approach further or move away, the signal reaches the limbic system, where a positive or negative emotional reaction is evoked…