Peak Experiences

I am working with my coach Mara to find ways to spend more of my time with my sage and less time with my saboteurs (see post on Positive Intelligence).  She gave me a values clarification exercise to do as homework. I recruited my friend Connie to help me complete it.  I’ll explain in case you’d like to do something similar.  

Think of a peak experience or a particularly frustrating experience.  Describe it to a friend and ask them to help you identify the values embedded in your story.  Then rank the values and choose the top three values. These values should be the values that if you could only choose three to go through the rest of your life you would choose.  

Connie and I set a time after my Friday Zumba class to talk by phone.  As the time approached I was still struggling to think of a peak experience.  I could think of very frustrating experiences and they can help to identify your values as you identify which ones are violated or called forth in the experience, but I wanted to stay in the positive.  I was stumbling over what “peak” meant.  I was thinking of some accomplishment by the world’s standard.  But all of those experiences, such as winning a statewide initiative campaign (Prop 1C) were also very trying and associated with significant negative components.  

This afternoon I had a breakthrough when I decided to focus on times I’d experienced flow for an extended period of time.  Flow has an official definition.  It was first coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. When I experience flow I also can feel it in my body: my core is solid yet relaxed with a tingly feeling going up my spine to my neck. My energy almost vibrates. And at the same time, I cease to track time, I am living in the present and my judge is retired.

I can think of several times when I was able to sustain flow. First when I worked at the Cavalcade of Horses at the State Fair, then when I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Belfast as a team member, and also most of the time I spent in New Zealand last year.  My list of values emerged as I answered Connie’s questions about these experiences:  purpose-driven, team work, physical work, authentic, natural, inspired, producing, rewarding, quality, integrity, performing at a high level, truly myself, energetic, no boundaries (freedom), intuitive.  

If I have to choose just three I choose: 1) authentic because it also encompasses being my true self, 2) integrity, which also includes performing at a high level and quality.  The final one is hardest to choose. I still want to pack physical work, inspired, freedom and intuitive into my knapsack.  My final choice is inspired, which also has an intuitive aspect.  

My next step is to look at the results from the saboteur assessment that I took (for free) at http://www.positiveintelligence.com and see how my values relate to my saboteurs. 

My goal is to live more and more in flow. This is only possible when I am not exclusively in my head and when I am in touch with my body and emotions–signs that I am fully present. 

I thought of a few more examples of flow:  my first AIM experience at Calvin Crest Presbyterian Camp, Zumba on a good night, the morning Sarah Harriet was born (sorry Tevis I wasn’t awake when you were born).

I will provide an update when I complete the entire exercise.  In the meantime, if you do try the exercise, please share what values you will pack for life’s journey.    

3 thoughts on “Peak Experiences

  1. Julie….what an honor to sit down tonight and read this. A wonderful demonstration of your power to transform. Thanks for sharing. For me, I pack community, possibility, and service.

  2. Thanks for sharing your insights! Helpful and inspiring to me and challenging as well. Haven’t done the exercise yet, but I will look forward to it!

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