What is a peak experience? I would define it as a high-point in life. A moment you don’t easily forget. This could be the moment you catch a big fish. The moment you reach the top of a mountain. A first kiss. Playing in the rain. Whatever it is. The things that make us nervous yet excited at the same time. These are the moments we feel the most alive. They are also the moments we often avoid because we are afraid of things. Afraid of what others think. Afraid of how we will feel about ourselves. Afraid of failing maybe or getting rejected? These are obstacles that can be overcome. Obviously taking certain measures of safety when it comes to physical things is wise =) So how do we have these “peak experiences?”
CREATE TIME: We need to create time for them. Most of these things do not happen sitting at home on the couch. They don’t happen daily although they could. This doesn’t have to be some elaborate vacation or anything like that. Got someone special in your life? Plan a romantic night just for them. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It really is the creativity that makes the night. Go on a big hike somewhere in your area. Anything you really feel like doing.
HOBBIES: Pick up a new hobby. Hobbies are often a key to peak experiences. Learning a new instrument is exhilarating (when you get it right). But anything works here. Gardening, hiking, fitness, art, music, photography, working on cars, collecting, etc. There is no end to the number of hobbies a person may have. I find it wise to focus on a few at a time as to not overwhelm yourself =)
DROP FEAR: This is the obstacle. Everyone WANTS to have peak experiences. They are what we live for. The moments that refresh us with a newfound zest for life again. But the fear usually gets in the way. And usually it isn’t fear for physical safety but fear of emotional or mental safety. So what are we most protective of? I would say most people are more concerned for their emotional “perceived safety” than for their physical safety. We just don’t have a very good program for healing emotional wounds in America so I guess this makes sense. If there is no way to heal from it then you better be damn sure that you don’t get hurt in the first place. The problem is that this means avoiding and missing out on a lot of good things in life =)
So what do we do with all this? Ultimately we need to learn about fear and how to beat it. I believe that everybody deep down yearns for these types of experiences. Nobody wants to sit on a couch or in a “mind-box” their whole lives. The fear just usually wins out. So we need to learn how to take emotional risks without the fear of not being able to fix them if they go wrong. Maybe I get rejected by a girl I like. Maybe I go try to learn how to dance and I’m terrible at it. Maybe I’m really good at it? We connect to the OUTCOME far too much and put less emphasis on the experience. A book I read a while back titled “Don’t Miss your life” talks about the performance identity. We need to let go of the results and “how we look” or if we “fail or succeed.” Sometimes the point really is just to LIVE and be HAPPY =)