Onto the ninth of Benjamin Hardy’s Thirty Behaviours to Make [Me] Unstoppable:
Create More Peake Experiences
He begins with a quote:
“Peak experiences as rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter.” — Abraham Maslow
and, thankfully, goes on to say:
‘Peak experiences, by nature, are novel and new. They involve experiencing or seeing the world in a new way.
In order for you to have a peak experience, you need to be open to new experiences. You need to be humble
Peak experiences are more likely to happen outside of your comfort zone. They generally involve “experiential” learning.’
‘Peak experiences don’t need to be rare. They are only as rare as your courage is exercised. If you begin being courageous daily, you’ll start having more peak experiences.
As you have more peak experiences, your emotional wellbeing will increase, and thus, your imagination and ability to direct and create your future will expand.’
‘Put simply, you can and must create experiences that change your identity. As your identity changes, your future will change. Einstein wisely said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Change can only happen by imagining a different world, and then courageously seeking new and expansive experiences. Change happens as you learn and expand your world.’
So, my understanding is that peak experiences are rare, but don’t need to be. They are novel to the person experiencing them, happen outside your comfort zone, and expand your world. And by experiencing them you will grow and change.
According to this analysis I have, in the last week, had three peak experiences. Though two of them are unlikely to be considered thus by most people. The first was that I helped organise a community engagement event. This included many meetings (no longer novel for me); making a lot of chocolate based treats (also not particularly novel, but becoming more so now I’ve married a diabetic); getting up at seven in the morning (exceedingly novel); and manning a stall on the Community Nature Reserve (weird and novel). There was also a great deal of last minute printing and putting things in plastic folders. The second was reading and evaluating tenders from consultants for the redevelopment of our local High Street. Both were part of my role as a community councillor.
As those are pretty boring things to write about, let alone read about, I won’t bore you with the details. It’s enough, I hope, to say I experienced them, and they were, on the whole, difficult because they were not only fairly novel, they also involved lots of other people. These days I prefer to work alone and please myself. Out of my comfort zone barely begins to describe.
The third experience was more the kind of thing I’d think of as ‘peak.’
Seeing a giant octopus while deep sea diving; trekking in the Andes; drinking yak blood cocktails in a yurt with the Himalayas looming above. These are the kind of things I tend to think of as mystical, magical, and mind expanding. But also communing with art.
On Saturday evening, having been woken at seven in order to stand in a draughty town hall explaining the difference between the song of blackbirds and song thrushes, and give my view on nesting boxes, I was so tired I’d have crawled into bed straight after supper. But our local theatre was showing Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Umpteen friends had told me it was marvellous, and I’d seen the trailer. So I washed up, put on a clean shirt, and wandered up the road with Dave to join a group of pals for a pre movie Prosecco and the film. I wasn’t sure I’d stay awake beyond the credits. But, boy, did I.
I was hooked from the start. The music was perfect, as were the casting and the juxtapositions – the shabby town contrasted with the gorgeous scenery for example, but also those within and between the characters. But the thing I liked best about it was the timing, it was exquisite. There wasn’t a word spoken, a gesture, a camera shot, or anything else that didn’t come at exactly the right nano-second to work to make the whole thing hang together like a galaxy. The peak in the experience of watching this film was the almost unbearable precision: it was a tense and illuminating event.* The only other English language film I can think of whose gravity is so finely tuned is The Station Agent. I love the Coen brothers and their work, but this topped even them. Watching it was like eating a nutritionally balanced, yet delicious breakfast in a room papered with Paul Klee’s watercolours. I came out of the theatre more alive than I’ve felt in months, and definitely saw the world in a new way. If you haven’t seen it you must.
So that’s behaviour nine of Hardy’s thirty. I learnt a lot from all three of the experiences I put myself through: how to pull off an event as part of a disparate team, and, I think crucially, settle for good enough; how to put my language and text analysis skills to use evaluating tenders for something I really don’t know much about; and how precision in art makes all the difference.
Behaviours ten and eleven are about relationships, so I’ll look at them in unison next week.
*I should probably say that at the time of watching the film I wasn’t aware of any of this, I didn’t sit watching and thinking ‘gosh that’s good use of timing.’ It’s only because I came out feeling awe struck that I have subsequently attempted to look at why.
Header image of paddy fields in Bhutan from Pinterest.