Sustaining Peak Moments
“Each of us was born with wings…(and) has the ability to go farther
than we ever thought possible, to do things beyond our wildest imaginings.”
Most of us have had them – those incredible moments in our lives where everything seems perfect. Whether it is an exquisite meal, being at one with nature, or the deep love we’ve felt while looking into the eyes of a partner or child, these are the moments when time seems to stand still. We are totally at peace and all seems right with the world. We want these snapshots of ecstasy to last forever.
But how often do we come down from the high of our experience and have “reality” set in? We still need to pay the bills. The “to do” list didn’t go away. And our schedules are filled with rushing from one place to another. After a while of being ensconced in our daily life, these peak moments may fade from our memory or seem too elusive to recapture. But, what if you could actually recapture the feeling of these moments at will? What if there is a way to extend these peak moments for longer and longer periods of time so they become your new norm? Passionate enthusiasm, the act of living life boldly and fully, can help fill the gap between peak moments and bring you a more positive experience of reality and hopeful perspective of the future.
If your first though from reading the last paragraph was that it is impossible to experience the feeling of those peak moments on a routine basis, you are not alone. Many of us have been conditioned to believe, “What goes up, must come down.” After all, we can’t have peak moments if we don’t have something else to contrast them with, right?
Some people feel guilty if they have TOO good a time. They think it is a sure sign that right around the corner something bad will happen, so they brace themselves for the inevitable. Others think it isn’t fair to have too much fun or have it too easy when others are struggling, depressed, or enduring great trauma. Like survivor’s guilt, there is always some reason why it is not OK to feel great about themselves or their circumstances.
We can move beyond our conditioning, though. It may take some focus and practice, but, it is possible to sustain the FEELING of peak experiences, even when outside circumstances might point to reasons to feel otherwise. The fact of this was driven home for me many years ago when I was burned in a gas oven explosion. On the way to the hospital, in the midst of enormous pain, I had a peak experience. I remember feeling excruciating throbbing pain while simultaneously experiencing the joy of aliveness that comes from being in a human body capable of experiencing the intensity of this physical sensation. At that moment I was both totally attached to the present situation, but detached from the anguish and fear that is usually associated with such trauma. This experience forever changed my appreciation for life and greatly reduced my fear that I would not be able to endure physical pain. Not that I want to invite pain, but if it visits, I know I have the internal fortitude to deal with it, whatever the outcome.
This is a very powerful realization and can actually change how we experience anger, trauma, sadness, or loss. So much of what we feel is about the context of our experience. By shifting our context, we can shift the experience itself.
Passionate enthusiasm can help you make this shift. Passion is a burning desire that is motivated from emotion. Enthusiasm is an intense, driving fervor or eagerness for what we do. The combination of inner desire and outer drive creates a powerful force to be reckoned with. Passionate enthusiasm has an intentionality that attracts positive experiences, engenders self-confidence and clears the way to accomplish amazing results.
Here is just a sample of practical ways you can use passionate enthusiasm to shift your context and draw those peak moments closer and closer together:
Stop Reliving Painful Movies from Your Past
When a painful experience from the past appears on your internal TV screen, visualize pressing the pause button on a remote control. Switch to a different movie where you are the central heroic figure who is triumphant. See yourself explain to someone about how far you have come and how much you have learned from that once painful experience.
Retrain Your Monkey Mind
When that endless cacophony of negativity in your head just won’t shut up, see yourself step outside the room where the din of the noise is not so loud. Observe the cacophony like you are at a cocktail party. Which characters are the loud mouths? Is there anyone there who is a wise-cracker or obnoxious? Is there an arm-chair critic sitting back and passing judgment on everyone else in the room? Make note of your observations. From this vantage point you can see how laughable and cartoon-like many of the characters are at the party. Now, turn away from the party and walk out into the garden where it is peaceful and quiet. (See more information about how to use the technique of Voice Dialogue to make internal peace with the different aspects of yourself.)
Forgive Yourself for Mistakes
If you find you are berating yourself unmercifully for making a mistake, pause and take a few deep, long breaths. As you do, exhale shame and guilt for not being aware, being thoughtless, or taking action that had unintended consequences. As you inhale, infuse each breath with compassion for your humanness. Assure yourself that you will remember the lesson learned without carrying the shame or guilt associated with the particular incident. Continue to slowly breathe in and out a few minutes. Chances are you will feel a sense of freedom and internal peace you didn’t have before. For more in depth ways to forgive yourself, see the book, The Heroic Path to Self-Forgiveness: Change Your Story, Change Your Life.
Fulfill Your Life’s Mission
Some lucky few come into this life knowing exactly what they want to do. From the time they are tiny tots they are unwavering in their drive to fulfill their mission in life. Others stumble on their mission almost by accident. For many people, even discovering their mission may be a life is a lifelong pursuit. If you fall into the later category, passionate enthusiasm can help ferret out your mission and assist you in evolving beyond your perceived limitations. Passionate enthusiasm gives you an intensity of focus that helps you take the actions that bring you fulfillment and joy. Even in the face of what seem like insurmountable odds, you have a sense of bottomless energy to persevere so you can fulfill your mission and serve humanity as only you can do.
Article by Marion Moss Hubbard, Ph.D.