Moral Elevation Part 2: Practices for Elevating Ourselves and Our World
Previously, I talked a lot about what makes the positive emotion, elevation so important. As promised, in this post, I will to share three great activities to get you started on your elevated journey. Behold!
Disclaimer: As always, please note that not all activities will work the same for every person. Some might work really well for you, and others might be total misses. You may even find that you experience the opposite reaction than expected. For instance, positive emotions can instead create in us a feeling of indebtedness or other forms of unhappiness. So, if you find yourself feeling these opposite feelings, elevation might not be the right emotion for you. But don’t despair! There are many other positive emotion-based activities you can try.1
In the case of elevation, it’s pretty simple. Find an example of something that inspires you to do good, and you’ve likely found yourself an elevation-inspiring activity! However, here are two activities to get you started.
Activity 1: Watching People Do Good
Pick the topic that sounds best to you and try watching a clip of that topic! While there are lot of videos out there that might give you an elevated feeling, here are a few that researchers recommend and have found to help most people feel elevated.
Activity 2: Elevated Reflecting2
Another way to get elevated is to think about your own experiences.
Read an example from a study used in previous elevation research. Here, a female witnessed the following event:3
Myself and three guys from my church were going home from volunteering our services at the Salvation Army that morning. It had been snowing since the night before, and the snow was a thick blanket on the ground. As we were driving through a neighborhood near where I lived, I saw an elderly woman with a shovel in her driveway. I did not think much of it when one of the guys in the back asked the driver to let him off here. The driver had not been paying much attention so he ended up circling back around towards the lady’s home. I had assumed that this guy just wanted to save the driver some effort and walk the short distance to his home (although I was clueless as to where he lived). But when I saw him jump out of the back seat and approach the lady, my mouth dropped in shock as I realized that he was offering to shovel her walk for her.
I felt like jumping out of the car and hugging this guy. I felt like singing and running, or skipping and laughing. Just being active. I felt like saying nice things about people. Writing a beautiful poem or love song. Playing in the snow like a child. Telling everybody about his deed.
This simple story that you just read is an example of elevation. With this in mind, think of a time when you witnessed someone do something extremely morally inspiring for someone else. In a few sentences, describe the details of what you witnessed and how it made you feel when you observed the event.
Taking Small Steps
That’s it! Thank you for joining me for today’s emotional experience. Remember, thriving is a process of transformation of becoming our best selves with and for others. Elevation is one step in helping us discover the best version of ourselves and how we can make a difference in our communities.
Do you know of a story that shares an example where someone upheld the highest standards of moral excellence? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the comments section so that everybody can enjoy even more opportunities to get elevated. Let’s begin to take a few small steps together.
2. A special thank you to Dr. Andrew Thomson for this suggested activity and instructions!
3. Haidt, J. (2000). The Positive emotion of elevation.