Welcome to Joy Lab!: Welcome to the Joy Lab podcast, where we help you uncover and foster your most joyful self. Your hosts, Dr. Henry Emmons and Dr. Aimee Prasek, bring you the ideal mix of soulful and scientifically sound tools to spark your joy, even when it feels dark. When you're ready to experiment with more joy, combine this podcast with the full Joy Lab program over at JoyLab.coach
Henry: Hello, I'm Henry Emmons and welcome to Joy Lab.
Aimee: And I am Aimee Prasek. Here at Joy Lab, we infuse science with soul to help you uncover joy. To do that, we focus on building the elements of joy, the positive emotions and inner states that become the building blocks for a joyful life.
Now the element for this episode is awe, and we are working through, uh, the fourth aspect of deep listening that Henry noted in his book, the Chemistry of Calm.
This aspect is "seeing the goodness in others." So we're pairing up these aspects of deep listening with our elements of curiosity and awe, because those elements are really at the heart of these aspects of deep listening we are exploring.
Henry: Right, uh, curiosity and awe, are two of our 12 elements of joy. And both of them really have to do with this incredibly important skill that we, we talk about a lot in Joy Lab, and we're all trying to become more effective at using it in our lives, and that is this precious resource of attention. Where do we place our attention?
What do we deem worthy enough to give it to? So I think of curiosity as the fuel that drives us to pay more attention to the things, that we want to, because we are really interested in them. So if I find another person interesting, and I want to know more about them, I have already gone a long ways towards being able to see the goodness in them. And I think of awe, or I like to also use the word wonder, just makes the perfect partner with curiosity. They just go hand in hand. Curiosity drives us. And then when we have an experience of awe, when we see the wonder in another person, it's just this incredible payoff that makes us wanna do this even more.
We wanna see the world in this way more and more of the time. It kinda replenishes the fuel of curiosity. So it's another of these virtuous cycles, these upward spirals that are really possible and that we just love to work with here at Joy Lab.
Aimee: Yeah, over the weekend. This is kind of a, a fun little strategy that I'll share right from the start here. I did my nails and I put on my pointer finger, the one that points at others and myself, it says Love on it. So if you're on YouTube, you might be able to see just a little reminder to see the goodness when I point outward and inward. So there you go. First strategy, paint your nails put love on it.
Henry: What a great
Aimee: Or a tattoo. I have a friend that has, uh, love on the pointer finger as finger well. So, get into with this definition a little bit more about seeing the goodness of, of others.
Uh, and when it comes to listening, what's the relationship there? Henry has a great description, comes from his book, "Chemistry of Calm." Here's what he wrote: "One of the most healing things you can do for another is to see their basic goodness, even when they cannot. Trust that the other person doesn't need to be fixed, nor do they need your advice. All of us have the wisdom that we need within. It only needs to come into our awareness. See below the surface of the person's words and life to behold they're resilient, loving nature. It is as if you are holding a great gift for the person until they are ready to accept it." Love that
Henry: Thank you when I hear that, um, and it's been a very long time since I've heard it or read it.. I am so clearly reminded of why and how I wrote that because it was, it was inspired by a single, very specific encounter. And this is a long time ago, probably 15 years ago. So I was meeting a new client and as often happens in the first, uh, session with someone. I, I really don't ask a ton of questions. I, I ask maybe a few, but mostly I'm just listening to the story. And she had quite a story to tell. She had faced a lot of life challenges and had a lot of losses, and it was clear to me that one of the things she was doing as she spoke about this was that she was, she was grieving
this. I'm not sure she knew that she was doing that, but that was my sense. But what really struck me was the courage that she exhibited just to keep going.
The resilience she had to, to keep getting up after each of these times she was knocked down. And, and these are qualities that I am pretty sure she could not see in herself, at least not right then, but it was really, really obvious to me.
Henry: Yeah, there was a lot of tough stuff there and I, I, I never dismissed that, you know, the importance of that. But at the same time, I felt very moved, um, and somewhat in awe, frankly, of this person in front of me. Now that doesn't always happen for me in a, with a new patient or in other meaningful conversations, but it does sometimes, and I really am clear about this, that I don't look at it as though I am helping this person by being present in that way because it's, it's just as much, it's just as good for me to be opened up and moved in this way. To just to have an encounter with the goodness and the grace in another person is an incredibly enlivening experience for me as well.
Aimee: That opening, I think it boosts our own resilience and wellbeing when we see the goodness in someone else it creates that opening. In episode 61, we talked about moral elevation. Feeling that line right here. You know that feeling that we get when we witness someone doing something really kind or brave or generous, when we witness their goodness, when we see that, we feel elevated. And that opening up that elevation, it's not abstract, just as I said, it's related to a boost in positive emotions, and in improvements in our self-care, right?
So essentially when we see more goodness in others, When we point with love, we will very likely see more goodness in ourselves. That's why we have our me time Circle over in our resilient community. A space dedicated to seeing and sharing the good stuff we witness because it creates that upward spiral that you noted Henry just a moment ago.
And we will feel better when we witness the good. Now I'm gonna talk about an obstacle, cuz I love to put those two things together. Let's just balance it out here. Um, and this has to do with whether or not we can see the good in ourselves.
Henry: Oh, I agree with you. And I, I'm not sure either, but I don't think it matters which one you start with. I think they're just flip sides of the same coin. I think that whenever you can open up to yourself and let go of self-judgment and see the goodness within you, you're also gonna become better at opening up to others.
And it goes the other way too, vice versa. So I don't think it matters where you start. I think anything that opens you up to seeing the good is gonna help you to see the good in other people in other places, including yourself. I do think it matters, however, that you don't exclude yourself from it.
In other words, you don't wanna go about just seeing the goodness in others and still think that you're, you know, you yourself are somehow broken or unworthy or whatever. You know, it's, it's, it really you've gotta include yourself in it too. So try to see yourself with the same eyes that you see the people who you love in your life in.
In doing that, you are just going to get better and better at it, and the world is going to seem like a friendlier and friendlier place.
Aimee: Yeah, I love that. You know, so if it's feeling impossible on one side of that, seeing it in others or seeing it yourself, the idea perhaps is that we can, um, we can practice on one side of that coin and it will support the other. On that relationship, there is a recent study that kind of looked at this.
I think it's helpful. They used measures of self-compassion and its relationship to how folks saw other people's flaws. And the results were pretty clear. Participants who rated higher on self-compassion saw fewer flaws than others. The title is great too. It's called "From Me To You, self-Compassion predicts acceptance of own and others imperfections." From Me to You.
So there's, there's skill here that they're discussing in this study that we're discussing now. Um, this idea as well, my self-care predicts how I'm going care for the world outside of me. I see the world, how I see myself. And this
Henry: I think that that is really important. I see the world, how I see myself. Yeah. Wow.
Aimee: But it's a skill too. So it's not something that you were born into this vision, right? This is what we talked about, talk about so much here. This idea of learned optimism as Dr. Martin Seligman presented. That that phrase, um, that we can develop these skills, we can learn to see ourselves with more love.
We'll see the world outside ourselves with more love. So this study and what we're saying here is, very likely, one doesn't cause the other. They work together.
Henry: So I'm, I'm reminded of a term that I, I just really like and I, I can't remember where it came from, but it, to me, it's a suggestion for how to look at other people. And that is to see them with soft eyes. I love that. Partly because it is so simple and so understandable. Look at others with soft eyes. Soften your gaze. You know, release your grip, be kind, be forgiving. Do it for others, but also do this for yourself. You know, we can be curious without grasping. And when you soften, even soften your grip, so to speak, while you open up. And then you can really let wonder come in.
Aimee: I love that. It also reminds me maybe of a strategy of just really quite literally, softening the tension around your face. When you're with somebody in conversation. To release the tension that might be sort of gripping up in your jaw, around your eyes and ears. That opportunity to take a breath and then invite some softness because it changes the perspective.
And then starting from a place of compassion. Also this acknowledgement that we are not broken, we do not need to be fixed. That creates some space for growth and improvement. So this idea too, that there is change that occurs here. It's not just falling to the floor.
Henry: Right. Well, you know, my, my, one of my favorite Zen quotes, Aimee, it is you are perfect as you are and you could use a little improvement
Aimee: It's my favorite quote. I love it cuz it stands in the face of so many of, sort of the militaristic approaches to behavior change that we talk about, right? So it's not this, it's it's not just falling to the floor and giving up and getting rolled over, right? Yeah. I love that. We are perfect. Um, and we could use a little improvement.
It's the secret sauce for creating change. Love those around you so much that you are inspired to create change. Love yourself so much that you wanna create change. So again, this idea that this goodness stuff, it's not passive, it's what positive change is built on. We actually have a really great meditation in episode number 39 that can support us in this, practice of seeing the good in others, seeing the good in ourselves.
So in episode number 39, it's called "Healing the rejected self." I think it's a great aspect that applies to everything we're talking about right now.
Henry: Aimee, is it okay if I read a poem today?
Aimee: Yes, please.
I don't, I don't wanna close every episode. You go,
Henry: I'm gonna, I'm gonna close this episode if that's all right. So, I, I used to read a, a lot of poetry. I just, Sometimes come across a poem I, I find so meaningful and I, I still do, um, from time to time. But anyway, this is a poem that came to me that same day several years ago when I met that patient that I was referring to earlier.
The one who, you know, inspired my writing about the goodness in others. So this was later in the day, probably in the evening after I got home from work, and I was still feeling moved from that session I had. And then I came across this poem in my inbox and I just was kind of floored by it. I could not help but see the connection to the patient that I had seen earlier in the day.
So here it is. I'm just gonna read part of it. Uh, it's a poem by Rumi that's called "Can't You See The Mighty Warrior?"
" How often you ask what is my path? What is my Cure? He has made you a seeker of unity. Isn't that enough? All your sorrow exists for one reason; that you may end sorrow forever. The desire to know your own soul will end all other desires. Can't you see? If you are not the king or queen, what meaning is there in a kingly or queenly entourage? If the beautiful one is not inside you, what is that light hidden under your cloak? From a distance, you tremble with fear. Can't you see the mighty warrior standing ready in your heart?"
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