Pacific Quest is harnessing the power of awe
Pacific Quest, a program based in Hilo, Hawaii, is harnessing the power of awe to transform the lives of adolescents and young adults. With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting exposure to awe-inspiring experiences, Pacific Quest is helping young people rediscover their connection to the world around them.
According to Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, the feeling of awe is central to happiness and comes down to one emotion. Pacific Quest’s students are experiencing awe-inspiring moments that are changing their lives. These experiences include swimming with Hawaiian sea turtles, visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and witnessing the cycle of birth and death in the garden.
Pacific Quest also provides a community of peers for adolescents and young adults to feel collective effervescence, a buzz from being part of a shared experience. This is achieved through group therapy, working together in the garden, and swimming in the ocean with sea turtles.
Pacific Quest’s program aligns with Keltner’s “Eight Wonders of Life,” which include witnessing moral beauty and courage in others, moving in unison with others, getting out in nature, listening to or creating music, taking in visual art or film, seeking out a spiritual or religious experience, considering a big idea, and witnessing life and death. Students at Pacific Quest have access to all of these wonders, including rediscovering their “moral compass” or “north star” through the assignment of writing their life stories.
Pacific Quest’s program is a reminder that awe-inspiring experiences can improve mental health and increase happiness, even during challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic. It invites everyone to tap into those life-giving experiences and notice the awe in everyday moments.
About Pacific Quest
Pacific Quest’s mission is to provide hope to families of adolescents and young adults by facilitating life-changing experiences on the Big Island of Hawaii. Their individualized mental health treatment approach focuses on anxiety, depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and trauma.