Awestruck: PAU Alumnus Teaches us How to Cultivate Wonder in New Book

Monday, February 1, 2021

PAU Alumnus Jonah Paquette is interested in positive psychology and well-being and he may just have the antidote to the fatigue and stress many of us have experienced in 2020 and 2021.

Dr. Paquette’s new book, "Awestruck: How Embracing Wonder Can Make You Happier, Healthier, and More Connected," explores the life experiences that cause awe and wonder. 
Paquette starts off "Awestruck" by reminding us of the solar eclipse in 2017. He states that marriage proposals spiked higher than their usual August numbers, Instagram posts reached a record high, and we all turned toward the sky wearing the same sunglasses. Paquette writes that we were all looking for a unique, rare, human experience together – to experience awe.
In addition to solar eclipses, Paquette outlines the many ways we can cultivate and savor awe in our daily lives. These “peak experiences” can be found at the top of a mountain you've just hiked or through meditation, they can be found on a scenic train ride or with a sunset from your own backyard, they can even find you when you realize your smartphone has more computing power than Neil Armstrong had landing on the Moon.
The moments in which we feel awe and wonder don’t just feel good, Paquette says. They also benefit our mental health, strengthen relationships, encourage altruism, help us forgive others, and even “impact our immune system and our bodies inflammatory response.”

Paquette had the first idea for "Awestruck" well before the pandemic, even though it may serve us particularly well now. “I had the idea for the book in May of 2018. I remember that very specifically, because I had this beautiful experience in nature following a torrential downpour of rain. The rain stopped and an incredible double rainbow emerged. I thought to myself, this is more beautiful than any painting could ever be and, in that moment, I felt that this type of experience was really meaningful and congruent and core to who I am.”

Paquette is the author of two other books. Part of his mission is to translate psychological research into useful material for daily living. Researching and writing a book after seeing the double rainbow was the next logical step.
Jonah Paquette is a Psy.D. 2010 graduate of the Palo Alto University – Stanford University Consortium. You can learn more about his book here.
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