The other day I hiked a beautiful trail off highway 1, a major stretch of road along the Northern California coastline of the Pacific Ocean. This trail twisted and turned through the glorious beauty of towering Redwoods, magnificent old Oaks, eventually peaking to a beautiful vista of the Pacific Ocean.
While hiking, I was acutely aware of the sounds and smells, and all of the sensations of my body. The musty aroma of fog-soaked moss filled my nostrils, and I was tuned into every bird call and crunch of twigs or leaves beneath my feet. I felt ALIVE.
This hike was invigorating and it reminded me of how I tend to feel while vacationing in Hawaii or Big Sur.
Think about the last time you vacationed. I’ll bet your senses were totally tuned into the experience. You noticed all of the sights, the colors, the shapes of things. You probably noticed the different smells and the sounds that were new and surprising to you. You likely breathed more deeply into each moment. This is peak experiencing.
Peak experiences are like transcendent moments of pure bliss that stand out from everything else. The memory of such moments is lasting, and they can be likened to spiritual experiences.
In Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualization is located at the very top of the pyramid, representing the need to fulfill one’s individual potential. According to Maslow, peak experiences play an important role in self-actualization. In his book, “Toward a Psychology of Being”, Maslow says to, “Think of the most wonderful experiences of your life: the happiest moments, ecstatic moments, moments of rapture, perhaps from being in love, or from listening to music or suddenly ‘being hit’ by a book or painting, or from some creative moment” (1962) and you’ll know peak experiencing.
Peak experiencing is similar to positive psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “flow”. According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is a state which people become so involved in an activity that the world seems to fade away and nothing else seems to matter (1990). When in a state of flow, time seems to fly by, focus becomes sharp, and people experience a loss of self-consciousness.
Everyday moments like engrossing yourself in a great book, creating a piece of art, or enjoying an afternoon hike through the forest can all lead to a flow state akin to peak experiencing. And, the results of what you engage in while in the state of bliss are typically leaps and bounds “better” than when you’re on autopilot or doing something “because you have too.”
Peak experiencing is the key to achieving peak performance in your business and life. When you bring peak experiencing more into your everyday life, you feel empowered, joyful, calm and attentive. I know when I feel that way, I can handle anything, accomplish anything, and the world is literally my oyster.
Make peak experiencing your dominant way of experiencing the world, and you’ll not only become unstoppable for your business, but the journey will become sweeter.
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