You can call it bliss, self-actualization, or intense happiness. Ultimately, a peak experience is an ecstatic state. You know, those moments in life where everything feels joyful and peaceful. There’s nothing in those moments that can phase you. You give this experience your full attention.
Think back to the last time you felt that way. If you’re like most people, you may have a couple of those moments floating around in your memory, although they are likely infrequent.
Now, imagine having a peak experience every week. It’s possible! By cultivating these skills, you can increase the ease with which you enjoy the beautiful moments of your life. Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1964) found that people can enjoy peak experiences during the most commonplace of events (waiting for the bus, drinking coffee in the morning…). He also found that the more emotionally healthy a person was, the more likely that they would experience peak-experiences in their day-to-day lives, and they would be stronger.
Peak experiences are characterized by a heightened awareness of your surroundings, your body and your thoughts. You may feel like you are experiencing the world with tremendous clarity, seeing all as it was meant to be seen. One way to heighten and practice cultivating awareness is through mindfulness. Mindfulness, at its most basic level, involves paying attention on purpose. Many people start their mindfulness practice by sitting down in a quiet space, closing their eyes, and counting their breaths. This practice allows you to close the gap between the mind and body. You can find out more about how to be more mindful here.
You can call it counting your blessings, writing what you are thankful for, or anything else. The act of listing what you are grateful for has health benefits, boosts your immediate and long-term happiness, and can help you achieve peak experiences. You can boost your chance of having a peak experience through generating positive emotions that comes from thinking of what you have in abundance inĀ that moment. Peak experiences are characterized by an overwhelming sense of gratitude. You can find out how to cultivate gratitude here.
3. Learn what makes you ‘you’
Individuals who are most likely to achieve peak experiences are self-actualized, mature and self-fulfilled. Learn your strengths and weaknesses. Try new experiences and become comfortable with vulnerability. These are the moments that help you to figure out what makes you tick! Remember that finding out who you are doesn’t happen overnight.
Maslow, A. (1964). Religion, values and peak experiences. New York: Viking.