Welcome to Joy Lab!: [00:00:00] 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: I'm 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. Those are the positive emotions and inner states that become the building blocks for a joyful life. The element for this episode is awe, and we're working through our sixth aspect of deep listening that Henry noted in his book, the Chemistry of Calm. This aspect is "Wonder."
So if you're popping [00:01:00] in here after a while or for the first time, welcome! Or welcome back! You can definitely stay right here. You don't need to go back to episode 62 where we kind of started all of this exploration, but you could head back there after, if you'd like, so that you can move through, you know, all of the aspects that we've been exploring, but they hold their own, um, as well. So, to explain this aspect of wonder as it relates to deep listening, I'm gonna read a section from Henry's
book. Here it is:
"If questions arise in response to what another is saying, just hold the question for a while. Ask only questions that you really wonder about, not those for which you think you know the answer. Your questions best serve when they illuminate the truth for another. You should avoid trying to lead the person to his or her answers. Any truth is richest when we discover it for ourselves."
So I'm just [00:02:00] gonna close the episode right here, cuz I can't say much more. This is an area that I'm really working on cuz if you know me, I ask a lot of a questions and I don't know the percentage of which, but many or at least some I, I ask just to pacify a random question in my own head that then often takes the person away from the essence of their story. So, you know, it's definitely, this is definitely something that I'm really trying to work on. Practice.
Henry: Well, well, I have been hearing that folks are liking our shorter episodes, Aimee,
Henry: you're, if you're good,
You know, I think like with many things, the toughest part about this is just getting out of our own heads.
Henry: And again, I think that's why it is so helpful to have some sort of a mindfulness practice or [00:03:00] any kind of practice that is geared toward creating more awareness and more self-awareness. Because whenever we're caught up in our own thoughts, we're not aware that we're caught up in our own thoughts.
Henry: It's just a, a, a, it's hard to break out of it because we don't even know we're in it. So sometime soon when you find yourself having a conversation with someone, just in the back of your mind, see if you can step back for just a moment to check in and, and just notice where is my attention right now?
Am I actually really focused on this person in front of me or am I looking around the room or thinking about what I need to do, other things I need to get going, or maybe thinking about what I, I should say next.
Am I feeling impatient? You know, wanting to avoid an unpleasant topic. There's so many ways in which we, get off course and not [00:04:00] really present in the moment with that person in front of us. And you know, remember that with any kind of mindfulness practice, this is a mindfulness practice, this moment of, of this conversation, and like any other time you're practicing this, there is no self-judgment. You don't need to beat up on yourself for being a bad listener or whatever, being impatient.
It's just a way of checking and noticing where you're at. And then really making a genuine effort to bring yourself back into that moment and be really present to the person you're in, you're in front of. So you know, it's usually not that we don't care about the person we're with. That's not why we get off track like this.
It's just that our own unconscious thoughts take us somewhere else and we don't even realize it. So this is why it's so helpful to stay with your curiosity, genuinely wanting to [00:05:00] know something about this person. It's just a great thing to fall back on because that can automatically cut through all of this internal chatter. And it just draws us into being present kind of without effort, simply because that's what we really wanna do.
Aimee: Yeah, that, I think that's where those elements of curious curiosity and awe can really shine when it comes to listening. Helping to anchor us back into the moment. We all understand that feeling of curiosity, I think. And then this essence of awe includes that feeling of mystery, like an inability to put words on or to sort of answer on top of something. So we come back to curiosity, as you said, Henry, and then with this awe as well. It can really help us to step into this aspect of wonder and stay present.
As Socrates said, right, "wonder is the beginning of wisdom." So maybe that space of wonder is where also [00:06:00] our, our deeper, wiser self resides. That self we talk about here at Joy Lab. And I really like this idea of channeling our elements, uh, and using wonder to enter into that sacred space as we listen.
Henry: I love that you, you can quote Socrates one week and quote Wedding Crashers the, the week before. It's just great. You have a wide range of sources.
Aimee: My mentors and sages are all over the place. Curiosity drives it. Yes. Thank you,
Henry: Yeah. Well, a couple of episodes ago, I think episode 66, I read a poem called, "Can't you see the Mighty Warrior?" It's a poem by Rumi. And in the poem, I think Rumi was directing us to see the wondrousness inside of ourselves, what he referred to as the Mighty Warrior. And we can also do that for someone else.
And when we [00:07:00] do, I swear it enlarges them. You can almost see their, their essence change if you can really look at them in that way. Now, I think the most important part of having an interaction like this is this: that you are actually curious about the person in front of you. You really do wonder about them.
You're genuinely interested and people sense that intuitively, and it is just this clear invitation for them to open up.
Aimee: Yeah, you feel it. Really. You feel that space that's created. I, I think one of the biggest strategies here is that to do that is that first sentence of, your quote that I read just, uh, at the top of the episode, Henry, here it is:
"If questions arise in response to what another is saying, just hold the questions for a while. Ask only questions [00:08:00] that you really wonder about, not those for which you already know the answer."
So in sort of the summary of that to me, um... the strategy here is that it's a pause. Pausing. And refocusing back to the person. We'll talk about silence in next episode. I feel like wonder, and this pausing is sort of a good prep for that.
Henry: Yeah, in an earlier episode, I think we talked a little bit about how this, listening in this way, is actually a very active process and it's one that requires some real discipline at times. And I think this is where the discipline comes in because you know, we, we tend to be kind of impulsive about wanting to interject or or move Yes. things along or what have you.
And, and so it's re it's refraining from doing that. It's just, even if it's just a momentary pause, giving a little space for something else to happen. And if the goal, one of the goals [00:09:00] of having a deep conversation, is to allow the person to speak their truth, to, to speak what's, you know, something that's inside of them that they haven't yet been able to somehow let out into the world, they have to feel just even unconsciously, they have to feel very safe in order to do that. And time, just simply allowing for adequate time is one of those things that I think creates that sense of safety and, and spaciousness. So.
And I think another really helpful practice or, or exercise that, um, this is something that I have found really meaningful, is to, to try to go back in your memory banks and see if you can recall a time or just a person in your life who was able [00:10:00] to sit with you in this way and who you felt that they could see something in you beneath the surface that maybe you didn't even see in yourself. So this is, this is something where you might want to give yourself a little time to work with this, you know, half hour, 45 minutes or, or something like that.
And then, you know, um, once you, you get that person or that memory kind of clear in your mind, you can, you can work with a few questions. Such as, "what did this experience do for me?" Or, "what was it about this interaction with so-and-so that allowed for this to happen?" I personally find it really helpful to write some of these things down in a journal, some of my reactions or reflections and I, I've done this, you know, a number of times and, and one of the people that comes to mind for me was someone who I met, who I [00:11:00] knew when I was in high school.
High school was both a really good and a really hard time for me, as I think it is for a lot of people. And this was, uh, the mother of one of my friends who was just a wonderful person and, and a just such a great conversationalist.
And I remember often, sitting with her and my friend in their kitchen and she would just talk to me, for what seemed like a really long time, maybe it was, I don't know, 15, 20 minutes, half an hour, which that age for an adult to give me that kind of attention seemed really remarkable.
And I could also tell that she was not faking it. She was actually interested in me. And she would ask me real questions. The kind that we've talked about that lead to more conversation. But I think the biggest part of that for me was that she [00:12:00] seemed to be able to see through this surface stuff that was getting in my way.
You know, my awkwardness, my insecurity, just how lost I was feeling at that time, And those conversations really grounded me. They helped me to feel that, you know, things were gonna be okay without even talking about, you know, the stuff that was going on. And I also felt like it, it enlarged me.
It somehow made me a bigger person. Like I could, I could imagine myself becoming more than I had previously thought that I could be. So what a gift that was for me. And you know, I think taking a little time to remember that and reflect on that, why it was so good for me, it's just something I find super helpful to do.
And it, it, it, one of the outcomes is that it motivates me. It, it's a gift then that I've tried to pass along to others from time [00:13:00] to time. And, and when I'm able to do that, the thing that just I just find remarkable is that it actually doesn't take much time or effort. And it's an experience that enlivens me, I think, just as much as it does the person I'm with.
Aimee: What a gift we can offer to those around us. And I love too, as you're explaining it, Henry, it's not like that individual knew the future or could craft a perfect sort of solution to your discomfort or problems. That person was just there and cared about you. And we can all do that.
Uh, so as we noted, we'll talk about silence next episode. Kind of moving into that space. I feel like the last three episodes, a little bit more contemplative, a little bit more on this aspect of pausing and silence, creating space. These are all interrelated aspects in many ways, but[00:14:00] it's neat to sort of separate them and see how they can each hold their own. And there's like all these surprising gifts that can come within them. I think too, this wondering, seeing the good in others, all of these things that we're exploring.
To close this episode though, I wanna share some wisdom from the great writer and sage, Alice Walker. This is from her book, the Color Purple.
"I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering 'bout the big things and asking 'bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love."
Thanks for joining us!: Thank you for listening to the Joy Lab podcast. If you enjoy today's show, visit JoyLab.coach to learn more about the full Joy Lab program. Be sure to rate and review us wherever you listen to your favorite [00:15:00] podcasts.