Awe! The Emotion That Gets You to Blindly Copy What’s Cool

Awe is a huge part of being a little kid–and because you were a little kid, it’s a vital part of who you are today in ways it takes a long, long time to realize.
Little kids are like little sponges, soaking up the traits and trademark behaviors of people who leave them in awe. Mom. Dad. Grandma. Grandpa. Star athletes, pop stars, movie stars. The older kid who listens to the kind of music that concerned parents currently despise and who wears his clothes and hair in the fashion that currently signifies his rebel status.
Awe makes you blindly copy everything about the person you’re in awe of. You walk the way they walk. You talk the way they talk. You style your hair like they do. In a small tribe, blindly copying others is awesome.

Think about it: You’re a little kid, and you see someone you think is the coolest. Maybe that person is the best canoe maker or the grandma who makes the most delicious food. You want to be just like these people when you grow up. And so, in a small tribe, you sidle up to them and start copying them, beginning with the superficial. But as you spend a lot of time with them (say, oh, 10,000 hours) you come to understand on a deeper and deeper level what they do that makes them successful. You learn their skills and even the way they think.
But what’s great about awe is also what sometimes makes it a huge problem. In a large, modern society, most of us never meet our heroes. Instead, we only see the public image that they’ve created. The result is that we can be tricked by advertisers into blindly copying behaviors that hurt us.
How cool does the Marlboro man look? Want to be like him? You can be! Just smoke Marlboro cigarettes.

Want to be sexy, cool, and desirable like Britney? Then drink the choice of a new, cool generation.

Because awe leads you to copy others blindly, sustained reflection helps you to realize what you’ve soaked up from mom, dad, and clever ad campaigns that don’t have your best interests at heart.

Right after being born in Saudi Arabia, I was taken to the Callen house. Since then, Bryan and I have travelled the world with our Citibank fathers and somehow ended up in LA together. There we’d run into each other at family gatherings and do something that no one else in LA seemed to be doing: we talked about books. Since Bryan was kind of a big deal, Hunter and Bryan hatched a scheme to use his podcast to get on their favorite authors and professors. Out of that evolved Mixed Mental Arts and this tribe. For me, the marriage of entertainment and education is a return to how things used to be before our culture split story into two separate things. It’s exciting to be able to build on the work Katie O’Brien and I did for The Straight-A Conspiracy and expand it out to every area of life. While I play a series of roles in the Mixed Mental Arts community (including Shitty Dutch Uncle and Bryan’s #1 fan) my favorite role is as Toto who pulls back the curtain and let’s the world see that there are no wizards…only men and women who try and puff themselves up to seem important.

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