Secrets of Magic No 50: Cherish peak experiences

Peak experiences are those moments when we know the intensely pleasant excitement of a great success. We often feel this when we pass through one of life’s milestones, such as graduating from school, getting married, birthing children. Performers experience the satisfaction of connecting with an audience. Athletes know the rush of accomplishing a goal. Travelers seeing a great sight for the first time, or eating a wonderful meal, or talking with someone from the other side of the world, treasure these moments of delight.

As fantastic as these moments are, we cannot live our life as one ongoing peak experience. They are special partly because they happen so seldom. They also require a great deal of effort to achieve. Performers practice alone for many hours. Athletes train continually. Travelers save money, research their destinations, learn a language, and endure the discomforts of transit and of unfamiliar places and customs.

One of the dangers of peak experiences is becoming addicted to the adrenaline rush and the attention. The desire for celebrity is partly a desire to remain in that spotlighted space where everything revolves around us.

We plan our lives around peak experiences. We might spend years thinking about our wedding, or working toward graduation, or happily anticipating our wonderful trip.

Sometimes though we stop ourselves at the brink of accomplishment. Peak experiences involve the most intense emotions we encounter in our lives. The strength of the excitement might be hard for us to bear. Since we are often the center of attention at those moments, we might develop a form of stage fright, or stumble over the fear of failure.

We might also develop the fear of success. Peak experiences often mark the transition from one phase of life to another. Graduation means our school days are over. Marriage is a significant commitment. The performer has worked for many hours toward this performance, and now it is about to happen and be over.

Peak experiences mark the goals we direct our magic to achieve. The secret is fully immerse ourselves in the experiences when they happen, and then allow ourselves a period of quiet and calm, assimilating the experience, and preparing ourselves for the next moment on the peak.
I treasure peak moments.

Practice: Exploring peak experiences
Think about the peak experiences you have had in the past. Make a list of your top five moments. How did you prepare for these experiences? Did you feel excitement, nervousness, fear, joy?

Now think about the peak experiences that lie in your future? What moments are you looking forward to with anticipation? How are you preparing for these?

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