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The Road to Peak Experience

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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.

1. Awareness

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.

2. Gratitude

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.

References
Maslow, A. (1964). Religion, values and peak experiences. New York: Viking.

By: Kaya Quinsey

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Letting Go of Negative Emotions

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Are you feeling upset with your best friend? Maybe you didn’t get the job promotion you had anticipated and are feeling angry? Emotions that cause us to feel badly about ourselves and others often create problems in many areas of our lives.

Although these emotions often cause us pain, within the right circumstances, they are completely normal. Negative emotions signify that you care about your wellbeing. You care enough about yourself to feel badly when you are wronged.

There is so much we can learn from in the moments when we feel sad. When negative emotions do arise, you may want to practice a few exercises. First, ask yourself if you are trying to suppress the negative emotion. When we try to dull negative emotions, we consequently stop ourselves from being able to fully feel positive emotions as well. Allow yourself to feel that emotion fully and completely. Try not to judge your negative emotion. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Perhaps you can ask yourself why you are feeling this emotion. This is a time to check in with yourself and see how you are really feeling. Often, our negative emotions are not as bad as we anticipate. Our negative emotions may lose their grip on us the second that we let go of trying to control them.

Emotions are like waves – you have the crest of the wave representing the rising emotion you may feel, the peak of the wave which signifies the most intense feelings experienced, and the fall of the wave as it returns to its beginning state. Similarly, our emotions rise up, and eventually fall away. This cycle in emotions is so natural and rhythmic, but we often feel that our emotional states are going to remain the same.

By allowing yourself to feel your emotions fully, both the good ones and the bad, you open yourself up to new positive emotions. You have the complete capacity to experience joy in minor daily tasks that can often go unrecognized or overlooked. Remember, to be kind to yourself and even treat your negative emotions with kindness. This may decrease the hold that they have over you.