The Life-Enhancing Benefits of Wonder and Awe with Allen Klein

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Here we explore the complex emotion of awe which frequently involves a sense of surprise, unexpectedness, or mystery. Wonder and awe have many benefits and here you’ll find many ways to invite more of these most positive emotions into your life. Klein shares many inspiring examples of how we can tap into the power and benefits of awe. Awe is not rare and we don’t have to go to special places in order to find it. Awe is available to us in our everyday life. Deepak Chopra says, “What you pay attention to grows.” Awe is like electricity that is always available, we just need to turn on the switch by paying attention. It can come in the form of a bird song or in observing the delight of a toddler trying to catch the swish of a dog’s tail. Awe can connect us to a larger whole and it enhances our compassion. For example, Klein tells the story of three recently released prisoners and what they are looking forward to. One of them said that the thing he’s most looking forward to is opening the refrigerator and how this would be a most amazing event for him. We all have refrigerators and this man reminds us how being able to go to our refrigerators and get a glass of milk can elicit feelings of awe, wonder, and most certainly joy. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms) 


Allen Klein is the former Director of Life and Death Transitions in San Francisco. He's a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. 

He's the author of many books including: 

  • The Healing Power of Humor (Tarcher/Putnam 1989)
  • The Courage to Laugh, Change Your Life: A Little Book of Big Ideas (Tarcher 1998)
  • Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying: Embracing Life After Loss (Goodman Beck Publishing 2011)
  • Embracing Life After Loss: A Gentle Guide for Growing through Grief (Mango 2019)
  • The Awe Factor: How a Little Bit of Wonder Can Make a Big Difference in Your Life (Mango Publishing Group 2020 or Conari Press 2020) 

To learn more about the work of Allen Klein go to 

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • What is the scientific research being done around the emotion of wonder and awe
  • What some say about awe being our sixth sense
  • How an everyday activity of opening a refrigerator door can produced awe
  • How awe is not rare and we don’t have to go to a special place to find it
  • How Khruschev, the Premier of Russia, experienced awe in a Houston grocery store
  • What are some examples and stories of some everyday experiences of awe
  • How awe is available to us at any time, like electricity, we just need to turn on the switch
  • What was Justine’s synchronistic event at the Library of Congress
  • How awe can help us connect with greater empathy to others
  • What are some of the benefits of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • How nature is a big generator of awe
  • How street sounds became a symphony to Jenny Odell, author of The Attention Economy
  • What philosopher Sam Keen wrote about in Symphony in the Meadow on Sugarloaf Mountain
  • How being with someone at the moment of death is awe-inspiring 

Host: Justine Willis Toms     Interview Date: 2/26/2021   Program Number: 3727

Music Playlist

From Album:  Disfarmer
Artist: Bill Frisell
2009 Nonesuch Records #478524-2

Opening Essay: Track 01 Disfarmer Theme
Music Break 1: Track 03 Lost, Night
Music Break 2: Track 02 Lonely Man
Music Break 3: Track 05 Focus