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Peak Moments

Peak Moments

Here’s a fun exercise: take 60 seconds and write down the peak moments of your life.

A peak moment is a fixed point in time that has strong, positive memories. You summited the mountain! You achieved something monumental! Things will be different now.

The obvious ones are things like weddings, births, graduations, and so on. But pay attention to the others as well. When you look back on how far you’ve come thus far (whether you’re 15 years old, 80 years old, or somewhere in between), what stands out?

This is not a hypothetical exercise. Take a minute—one single minute—and make a list.

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60 Seconds Later

What did you come up with? You can share one of your peak moments with the rest of our group at the end of this post if you’d like. But more importantly, how can you get more of those moments? As suggested recently, one way is by pursuing meaningful adventure. I like this quote by Amelia Earhart:

“When a great adventure is offered, you don’t refuse it.”

Start saying yes to more adventures, and you might have more peak moments. A life lived in search of such experiences sounds pretty good to me.

If you’re curious, here’s one of mine. In September 2006, I had just moved to Seattle after four years overseas. I had a few weeks before starting grad school, so I booked my first Circle Pacific trip (like a Round-the-World ticket, but only halfway around) to Asia. When the big day came, I got on the 194 bus to go to Sea-tac airport. I felt nervous, in an awkward but thrilling kind of way.

I’m going to Southeast Asia! I thought. I’m on my own and headed to four completely new countries.

I flew to Seoul on Asiana Airlines and transferred down to Hong Kong. (It’s funny to write this now, because Hong Kong is one of my most frequently transited cities, but that trip was the first time I was there.) After a couple of days recovering from jet lag, I traveled on to Vietnam and beyond.

Those were not especially difficult countries to travel in, at least not by West African standards, but there was something significant about them for me at the time. A new world had opened up to me, and I look back now and see how important it was in defining my worldview of who I wanted to be.

For twelve days I wandered new cities until the time came to return to Seattle and start another new life at the University of Washington. I was looking ahead to that experience, but I was already looking forward beyond that. As John Mayer said, “I am invincible as long as I’m alive.” That’s how I felt on the bus to Sea-tac, and the feeling continued as I walked through Hong Kong and flew to Saigon.

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That’s my story. What’s one of your peak moments?

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Image: Aggpup

94 Comments

  • Lydia says:

    One of my peak moments was taking college classes during my senior year of high school. I was able to take almost an entire year of college courses for free through a collaborative program.

    I was in a very frustrating stage of life before I signed up. I felt like there was nothing I could do to change anything. Completing that year of dual high school/college courses (and earning very good grades) showed me that I _could_ make a change in life.

    It was exactly what I needed then. I’m so glad I took what seemed like a sort-of scary leap at the time.

  • Nate says:

    It was the spring of 1997 and I was finishing up my first year of college at a smaller state school. Over the past few months I had made some very good friends, I was doing a radio show..everything seemed good, yet something felt off (hello intuition!). One night as I was walking alone on campus and observing the beauty of the Hale-Bopp comet. I came to a realization that this wasn’t the college experience I wanted. I made a decision right then and there to transfer to the University of Wisconsin even though I knew nobody there. Everything just fell in sync. I found out the next day was the last day to apply and I just made the cut. My experience at the UW was amazing and I still to this day consider that one of the best decisions I made. It has also taught me that I need to listen to my heart more than my head.

  • Ben says:

    Last year I quite my job and rode my motorcycle from New Hampshire to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, Argentina. It took 6 months and over 23,000 miles or riding. My final day riding into the city was long, exhausting, freezing, and raining… I remember pulling into the city and laughing and screaming like crazy in my helmet. I MADE IT!!

    I’ll never regret that experience and since then new doors have opened because of it. Ride & Explore!

  • Gillian says:

    Sending out the url for my very first blog post to my friends and family. In it I explained that our house was up for sale and that in a few short months we would be leaving for our one year RTW. For me it was the last piece that ‘sealed the deal’ and ensured we were on our path. It remains as one of the best decisions I have ever made and continues to shape me.

  • The one that usually springs to mind would take too long to explain, so here’s a simpler and more recent one–

    I did the final pass of edits on my novel while sitting in the corner of the Star Community Bar, with my laptop plugged in behind the bar while The Forty-Fives played a blazing set. I rendered the result into a PDF and spent the rest of the evening feeling simultaneously liberated and anxious.

    Adam, the bassist, was remarkably tolerant as I grabbed him as I was leaving and babbled at him about what I’d just done and how after so many years of writing and revising I was finally ready to send the thing out into the world.

    “Well, now you have to do it,” he said sagely.

    And so I did.

  • Brett says:

    One of my most recent was completing a four-day hike around the rim at Yosemite this past summer (roughly 35 mi). I’m only about a once a year backpacker so this was pretty huge. The views from the top were stunning, and it only barely satiated my appetite for some more adventure.

    I like the Amelia Earhart quote. Been trying to live that for a while now, although it sometimes gets taxing on the ol’ wallet!

  • Andrea James says:

    Wow — one of the first that I wrote down was my first flight to Asia too!

    I was on a plane to Seoul, and then Hanoi. I had precious little vacation — five days — from my first reporting job. And so, I took a weekend to fly to Hanoi, partied for five days with a friend, and then took a weekend to fly back. I only missed five days of work, and it cost me $2,000 to go — but it was so worth it.

    Another was hiking the grand canyon with my husband. All the way down and back up in one day!

    What an invigorating exercise! I love adventures!

  • Petr says:

    I really liked this exercise. I came up with 14 items (probably exceeded 60s).

    It’s interesting to look at what you’ve just written and analyze it a bit. You’ll see what excites you the most and what makes you happy.

    In sum, my peak moments involved adventures in foreign countries (4), girls (3), climbing mountains (2), career & business (2), winning a running race (1), making a trade on the stock market (1x), and even one occasion when I got drunk (I don’t know why it came to my mind during the brainstorming but I had a lot of fun that day). I forgot to list some obvious moments like graduation.

    My 14 peak moments happened in 1999 (1), 2001 (1), 2003 (2), 2004 (2), 2005 (4), 2008 (1), 2009 (3). Big gap 2006-2007 (probably school and work at the same time leave little time for peak moments). The mere number of peak moments indicates the most intense periods of your life when you had the most fun (at least in my case it is exact: 2005 and 2009 are the winners).

  • Jason says:

    A few days after graduating from college, I boarded a flight to Alaska for a three month solo backpacking trip. I was nervous…okay, I was scared and actually got up to get off the plane, but the flight attendants had just closed the doors and told me to take my seat. As I sat back down I thought, “Here we go for better or for worse.”

    The trip was amazing and changed my life forever. I became much more adventurous and learned that the fear of doing something new is much greater than the actual risk of doing something new. It was then that I realized I had broken free of the fear that keeps so many people from realizing their dreams. I’ve never looked back.

  • Andrea James says:

    Petr: This is some fun analysis. The “girls” category made me laugh!

  • Joe Mieden says:

    When I was in college, a group of students headed down to North Carolina and spent spring break hiking 35 miles of the Appalachian Trail. When we got on the trail, it was a cold, rainy March morning. We hiked all day in the rain, set up camp in the rain, got up in the rain the next morning, hiked another 12 miles in the rain, and finally stopped just before dark to set up camp again in the rain. I’ve never been so cold or wet in my life.

    Even in waterproof gear, incessant rain and the early spring chill could not be escaped. I went to bed trying to figure out if it was better to just give up. The next morning, fully prepared to brave the weather yet again, while we packed up camp, the rain slowed to a stop and the sun peeked out from behind its cloud. It was the first time I’d seen it since embarking on my journey. With the sun’s rise, my hopes soared. That moment, that turning point, is one of the greatest experiences of my life.

  • Rob says:

    Nothing will ever top my daughter’s birth. She was a month premature, and not even 4 pounds at birth but today she’s a vibrant and healthy 5 year old little girl!

    I totally agree with the notion of seeking more adventure in life – it can be rather mundane if we allow ourselves to get caught up in the monotonous details of day to day life. I’m very much reminded of John Eldredge’s comments regarding adventure in his books and the parallels life has to the Lord of the Rings stories and how we each have the opportunity to live out an incredible story in our lives.

  • One of my peak moments was presenting my honors thesis in college. In fact, college had a few peak moments and it makes me realize that, although what I’m doing is certainly an extension of what I learned there, maybe I have some unfinished business that is directly related to my education.

    Thanks for making me think… again!

  • Rixturey says:

    Mine came in the 5th grade when I won 2nd prize in an art contest and the artwork (a unicorn) was displayed in the auditorium. The prize was a book on ancient Mesopotamian art. I realized there were no limitations on my art. Poverty, my limited English and the racism I faced were not going to stop my goal of becoming an artist and showing my work in museums.

    Those dreams did come true. I graduated from George Washington University with a BFA (the only one of my generation in my family) and I have shown my work in museums in Washington, DC, Arizona and Puerto Rico. My life has taken many twists and turns, some of them backward. Art is still my main focus in life.

  • Gary Wilson says:

    I went for a hike with a couple of friends in the Bavarian Alps in summer. The hike was divided into two climbing phases and two descending phases. The hike required quite a bit of effort, because we were climbing up a small mountain. On the way down my wife and I descended quite a lot quicker than our companions and we stopped at the mid way point in a beautiful meadow high in the mountains but at the end of the first part of the descent. We were hot and tired and hungry. We sat on the emerald grass (yes it really is super green here!) and for half an hour or so we enjoyed solitude, deep quiet, the feeling and scent of a fresh alpine wind, and amazing views. As I sat there a combination of happiness and the physical sensation of sensuous enjoyment combined to bring a moment of transcendence. It was not that I had escaped to another world, because I was totally present, but I was in a state of joy and relaxation and very aware of the present moment.

  • Jeff says:

    A couple of my peak moments involve sports. I was not a sporty kid at all. I shunned PE at every turn. Didn’t like it and was much happier reading a book, writing, etc. But something changed as an adult. I’ve always loved watching hockey and about 10 years ago, at age 32, I took classes to learn to play. In 2006 I went with a team from New York to go to Montreal to participate in the Outgames. I play a couple times a week and I love it. I also took up biking and this year completed a 3-day Boston to NYC ride, which was one of the most amazing things I’ve done ever.

  • Alisa says:

    Finding out I was pregnant, being pregnant, and giving birth at age 31.
    Coming out to my family and being loved anyway, at age 21.
    Driving along the west coast completely alone, sun in my face and wind in my hair.
    Winning an art contest in 6th grade.
    Leaving a secure, but boring job to attend grad school, to become a therapist, while raising a new baby. It all worked out!
    Collecting sea glass and china fragments at Fort Bragg’s glass beach.
    Getting my first tattoo in Petaluma – a sacred heart.
    Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean at Myrtle Beach with my new step dad at age 24.
    Driving into Sedona from Phoenix the first time.
    Howling with the coyotes in Port Townsend
    Just this week, when I broke some subconscious barrier that I’ve had to making a comfortable living – and was offered, out of the blue, my dream job with exactly the salary I have been “intentioning” for the last year, exactly where I wanted to live! I move in two weeks. Whoop whoop!

  • Rob says:

    2 moments stand out. The first when I took the leap to move to Argentina where I lived for a year (working remotely) and following in love with the nation.

    The second is when I moved to Budapest, Hungary and again feel in love with the people, food, culture and the whole experience of living in a different country.

    I will now always never feel bounded to 1 city or feel afraid of moving to a foreign city (where I don’t know anyone or speak the language).

    Live Long, Die Young (figuratively : )
    - Rob

  • Kim says:

    One of mine was gathering six lifelong friends for my 50th birthday to meet in Warwick, NY and visit Pacem in Terris, the sanctuary of artist Frederick Franck, which had always been a dream of mine to visit. Many of these friends did not know each other so I was a little anxious about how it would turn out. It was an incredible, bonding experience and everyone was deeply moved by the place. It made me feel so lucky to have friends that I connected with on such a deep level.

  • The first thing that came to mind was living in a tent for a week at Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School in New Jersey. The experience of making fire with my bare hands and some dry wood, building a primitive shelter, learning how to track animals in the wild and most importantly learning to listen to the voice of nature made an indelible impression on me.

    Other Peak moments -Climbing Longs Peak in Colorado – Climbing a 200+foot Redwood Tree in California – Taking The Buddhist Precepts last year – and most recently losing 43 pounds and winning a weight loss competition and simultaneously re-invigorating my love of adventure! I would have to add finishing my an album of original music and launching with a CD release party with an outdoor concert with my favorite people in the audience.

    Great exercise! Feeling really blessed by so many Peak Moments in my life! Thank You.

  • jim says:

    One of my personal highlights was winning the LA City Championship with my high school golf team. When I’ve done this exercise in the past, the common thread is that the achievement always was the result of a ton of hard work, sacrifice, and even doubt as to whether or not it would ever happen. Then when that day comes, its stuck in your mind for good, since it took so much work to get it done

  • I took my band to Turkey twice. Awesome experiences! The people were SO receptive. When we did multiple shows in a city (consecutive nights), the crowds were singing along with our original songs (in English) by the second night. I remember one show in Canakele in particular. The crowd was dancing and singing along, and I’m up there on stage thinking, “This is amazing. This is what I was meant to do.” It was almost surreal.

    Another time was recording with legendary musicians, Abe Laboriel and JR Robinson, for the song, “The Friend of Africa”. And with that, recording with the African Children’s Choir. Both experiences literally brought me to tears of joy.

  • Alisa says:

    LOL…reading over my comments, I guess it’s mostly about sensation! Ha. And moving through fear and self-imposed or societal limitations.

  • Mercedes Kerr says:

    My peak was my spur of the moment move from Las Vegas,NV to Conyers,GA. All I knew is that I needed a major change. I was living between homes and motel rooms while working a job that I hated. I booked a ticket, transferred my job and in one week I was boarding the plane with only 60 dollars (which I had to use to check my bags). I should have been afraid since I had no money or any close friends or relatives in the area, but I wasn’t. I listened to hundreds of songs and wrote in my small notebook goals I would like to accomplish after this journey. Since my arrival I’m engaged, have my own little town home, and tons of work!! It was worth it.

  • Anita C says:

    Wow, lots of awesome experiences!

    Some of mine:
    Playing the Lilith Fair with my band, playing my first show ever at a nursing home with my guitar teacher and other students, learning to drive, releasing my first CD, staying at a Trappist monastery in silence for several days, camping in a wilderness area by myself after leaving a 14 year somewhat co-dependent relationship, playing a show with Joan Jett, moving to Chicago from Kansas, taking Chicago friends on a road trip around Kansas to show them all the quirky awesome things there, my band’s first multi-state tour, winning a martial arts inter-school match against someone 2 belts above me, playing my first solo acoustic show (after 15 years of only playing in bands), learning that I can do anything I want in life and the main person I have to answer to is myself!

    Here’s to adventures! I hope to make it to Portland in June for a new adventure!

  • Lisa Kewish says:

    I am totally into peak moments. I have had many. I am about to walk into one…I will be an extra in a commercial that is filming today.

    When life offers an adventure, always grab at it….makes for great stories around the dinner table!

  • Tom says:

    One of my greatest peak moments began as a complete disaster. After arriving at the airport with my bride-to-be and 30 guests, I was denied onto the plane because my passport was only valid for 2 months and 29 more days and not the required 3 months.

    Once the initial shock settled in and everyone else got onboard the plane, I experienced one of the most exhilerating 15 hours of my life. Getting my passport replaced, catching another flight, making a tight connection in Newark and reaching the destination in Panama only a few hours after the rest of the group was such a rush and such an eye-opener of what I am capable of.

  • Stephanie says:

    Summiting Mt. Hood here in Oregon at sunrise with my father on Father’s Day.

    Turning the corner at PDX airport, my waving and teary-eyed family just out of sight, finally and officially alone for the first time as I headed to London before living in Italy for 5 months.

    That being said, living in Italy for 5 months is a pretty big one.

    Hang gliding in the Alps in Switzerland.

    Buying my first home, on my own, at age 23.

    Moving to New York for a summer in college to be a photographer at a summer camp.

    Roadtripping to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas from Phoenix with my best friend.

    Innumerable peak moments with the man I love.

  • Nine says:

    The first one I thought of was my solo trip to Munich in winter 2004. It was just for 2 days, to see my favourite band. I’d already missed them in the UK as I’d had unexpected surgery followed by 6 weeks of recuperation, so I vowed to catch them before they finished their European tour.

    Nowadays, I wouldn’t hesitate to do something like that, and I frequently travel at a moment’s notice, but back then it was more of a big deal. Earlier that year I had finally left an abusive relationship and had quickly rediscovered independence and adventure. I didn’t know anyone in Munich, so I emailed the punk venue that the band was playing at, and asked if anybody could put me up. I got free accommodation, food, drink, and good company. It wasn’t the best gig in the world ever, but I was so happy to be there. After a one-night stand (that wasn’t really so great, but whatever) I made my way across the city in the snow, early on a Sunday morning with no one around. It felt amazing to be there.

  • rob white says:

    For me it was finishing my first book and having the published hard copy in hand. It was quite a journey and challenge. The previous epochs of my life were met with success in the domain of business but this was a much different challenge. It required creating myself anew to be an author… something that was completely unknown to me. The great joy I experienced was the feeling of being able to create a new and higher version of myself

  • Sean says:

    Peak moments…what a great concept!

    Two years ago I climbed Mt. Rainier for the non-profit I used to work with. But I didn’t finish. I was turned around just 1500 feet short of the summit. I felt like I had failed and it really bothered me.

    The following year (last Summer) we did another climb. This time it was Mt. Shasta. Almost as tall as Rainier as just as hard.

    This time, I was armed with an intentionally great attitude and I assembled a great team to climb with me. Long story short, I stood at 14, 162 feeling completely redeemed. That was a peak moment.

    Thank you Chris for helping me with some happy thoughts today!

  • Bill says:

    One of my “peaks” was a hike up San Gorgonio mountain in Southern California with two male friends. A steep and tough climb.

    All went reasonably well, but after an overnight camping stay, we headed back down. I had slightly oversized boots on which usually was not a problem. But the descent was so steep my feet kept slipping causing my toes to bang on the inside front of my boots. My toenails bruised and soon I was getting sharp pains that shot up my legs. Then I ran out of water. Not smart, I know, but it happened. Fortunately after a couple miles like that, my friends came and took my backpack and gear for me, making the trip a lot easier.

    At the bottom, there was a small but deep creek with crystal clear, ice cold water. And, I can still, years later, remember that drink!

    Why is this a peak? I learned I could take it. And there was that lovely water to drink!

  • Jackie says:

    My biggest one thus far is having a successful (meaning the audience laughed in all the right places, and a few cried in the right places) reading of the first act of my first full-length play. It was earlier this year, and I’m still working on the second act, but the memory of that night is definitely driving me to get it done.

  • Gary R. Moor says:

    It’s Nov. 11, 1977, Oregon State University. While doing Mech. Eng. homework and listening to Bring In The Clowns, I had an epiphany: “if I could choose any path I wanted, what would I choose?” Certainly not this. That very day I dropped all my classes, sold my books and called the local airport to schedule my first training flight. I wanted to be a pilot, but I never thought I could do it. Three weeks later, Dec. 5–a cold, sunny Monday–my flight instructor climbed out of the blue Grumman TR-2 we’d been flying and told me to take it up for three take-offs and landings without him. I thought I wasn’t ready and the idea of flying alone scared the crap out of me, but I trusted my instructor’s judgment. I taxied out and took off. When the plane lifted free of the ground my entire life shifted. I got “flying an airplane.” I became a pilot. My fear suddenly transformed into something new, blending itself into confidence in my ability to fly an aircraft and the utter joy of flight.

  • Dino Dogan says:

    Never say no to adventure…I’ve heard that somewhere long time ago and I say it to myself (and others within an ear shot) all the time…good reminder fo sho.

  • Jessica says:

    My most recent peak moment was two weeks ago. While working late in the office my boss and I were talking about business and I mentioned my dream in life is to open a coffee shop. My boss said the company was planning on opening some type of food venture and literately told me to go for it. I thought about that moment and the chills I got thinking about all the possibilities to come. I have since come up with a name, looked at spaces and began a blog (as of today) I will always remember that moment in the office feeling like I could do anything!

  • Mara Rose says:

    This is a great thing to do! I came up with 14 experiences very quickly. The first was a trip I made to Denali in the 1980′s. I met a great couple and we spent a glorious Fall day hiking in the park. The Mounatin was “out” and the Fall colors were stunning. That journey was the beginning of a series of connected experiences, one leading to the next, that led me to where I am today.

    Tops on my list of peak experiences are subtle, intimate moments with my horses and dogs.

  • Chris Walter says:

    Getting struck by lighting, was surprisingly the first thing that came to mind.
    It was my 21st birthday and I had just summited Pingora, one of the 50 classic climbs of America in the Wind River Range WY.

    That day had all the factors that compose an epic and I felt so very much alive.

  • Curt Shontz says:

    I illustrated the cover of my father’s final book, a collection of his life’s research on trans-personal psychology. His vision for the artwork was based on the myth of Psyche, and though his attempt to describe it was vague, I immediately knew what he wanted. The illustration is complete, and it’s one of my best works. I couldn’t be prouder of my father, and more honored to be a part of his legacy.

  • Todd Schnick says:

    crossing the finish line after my first half-marathon is one of my favs. changed my attitude about everything.

    and bolder plans lie ahead…

  • Matt says:

    One of my peak moments was in 2001 when I flew solo to Indonesia (my first time going International) and got married to an Indonesian woman I met online. It was an amazing eye opening cultural experience and one of the few times in my life when I really felt alive. For once I had ignored the fear that told me this was crazy and just did something exciting. We’ve been happily married now for 9 years and on our way back to Indonesia for a more long term stay this next year which is sure to be another peak moment.

  • Saad Bhamla says:

    The most recent life changing experience I’ve had is when i decided that i wanted to go to grad school and get a Ph.D. Not just any grad school, but one of the best school in the US. I literally wrote on my wall – I’m going to go either run the Stanford Dish trail or around the Charles river, Boston.
    I dreamed of this while sitting far far away in the southern part of India, in Chennai, in a small, hot and stuffy room, in a campus which is itself in a forest. All i could do at times would look outside my grilled window at the dense trees and hope. And pray.

    Now sitting on the 12 floor smack in the centre of the beautiful Stanford campus, i know my life has changed.

    P.S. I run the Stanford Dish trail every Saturday in just under an hour. And when i reach the top of the hill, i feel like I’m on top of the world. Every time.

  • amy says:

    Love this exercise. I do this with my clients, but we focus on the values they were honoring rather than the peak experiences themselves — and it’s so yummy to re-live the peak moments!

    So here are a few of mine:

    Stepping off the plane for the first time in Senegal, and feeling “home” in a profound way. This led to me living in Africa for two years.

    Birthing my son in a warm tub, in a pool of afternoon sunlight.

    Speaking to a roomful of graduates from my coaching program about who I am and why I am here.

    Reclaiming my power within my marriage after giving it away for nearly a decade.

    Thanks, Chris, for opening up this venue.

  • Geoff Hall says:

    One ‘life highlight’ was last year. I wrote and directed a film, my first. It was a strange experience, because there was a sense of homecoming, but I’d never directed before. Can’t wait to return home again!

    It’s a comedy – not what I usually write – which is a homage to Bullshot Crummond and it revolves around the Barking family (Rolls & Bentley!!)

  • Deborah Wall says:

    Being 18 and me and my girlfriend having one way tickets to Sydney, Australia our hands, no plans and $200 cash.

    It didn’t take long for the money to run out and the adventures to ensue.

    It was total freedom.

  • Robin Kerr says:

    I was living in Chiang Mai Thailand doing wild animal rescue. I needed to travel back to Oz at that time & left a friend with my dogs. He tooke dogs up to Burmese border and in a festival where there was lots gunfire Tahi ran off. She was black (the tribes eat black dog) and it was ten days before I could get flights back. I thought she was dead. Then as I went to get my flight i stopped at a friends. He got out of truck with a wee dog…”jo you dont have a dog” “I know” he replied “someone lost this dog at a truck stop”. I knew she was alive and waiting. From that moment in heart/mind i spoke to her telling her i was coming. from flight to Bangkok, overnight bus to chiang mai, then 4 hour local bus to Taton. I kept saying “Tahi Im on the bus, come to the road”, then I would see us having joyful reunion. An hour from Taton there she was looking at the bus, tail wagging…I screamed “stop”, she chased the bus. Driver stopped and she leapt onto bus. JOY- it confirmed interspecies com/luv

  • ieishah says:

    Can I just say first that Ride & Explore Ben’s story ROCKS.

    That said, one of my peakiest (?) moments came in the early hours of January 16th, 2008. Upon the dissolution of the relationship that had brought me back to Europe, Belgium specifically, I made a snap decision to move to Spain. Literally, at the airport, I decided to make a go of it it Spain. That was January 14th. 24 hours later, I was in a salsa nightclub in central Madrid, surrounded by cool people and great dancers, having a ball. I knew I had lots of work to do to get my life where I wanted it to be. But I also knew, without a smidgeon of doubt, that I was exactly where I needed to be.

  • Angela says:

    Doing this exercise, I realized that I simply don’t have very many peak moments. The last one was in 2009 when I brought home my new puppy. I’ve been quite boring, playing it safe, leading an ordinary life.

    I love all the stories that y’all wrote. Looks like I need to take charge of my future and make sure I create some peak moments.

  • hmmm — powerful post chris — thanks for compelling me with that short 60 second assingment — couldn’t turn you down.

    Biggest peak moment? Awakening to the truth of who i really am, at the foot of Arunachala mountain, Tiruvannamalai, South India.

    p.s. i recommend it for a visit, along with nearby Pondicherry and Auroville!

  • Lisa Scheff says:

    I am having one right now. I took a month off work to come to Nepal and develop a program to pay for legal services for women. Actually, that’s not accurate: I came here to do something entirely different (teach Nonviolent Communication to battered women) but the guy I was supposed to work with left town without telling anyone the day I arrived, so I am doing this instead. It took 60 hours instead of 30 to get here, the airlines lost my bag and it didn’t turn up for another 4 days.

    After a lifetime of not doing things because I was afraid of failure or discomfort I am blowing myself away daily with my ability to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances and do meaningful work. And I am floored by the way I am filled with energy and excitement such that I am utterly unfazed when things that go wrong. Only a week into this I know with utter certainty that nothing will be the same at the end of this month. In a GREAT way.

  • Lesley Graham says:

    After having spent a year on the road in Thailand Nepal India UK France and Spain I went back to Tokyo to work as an EFL teacher knowing i could find work there so I could finance more time being a Dharma bum in India. Yet I let 3 more years elapse til the class when i asked my students “what is magic?” … one student replied India… and that reminded me… of where I had discovered the meaning of life… and knew I had to return… sooner rather than later… I took a few months off work and went to Nepal… that 6 month trip encouraged me to quit my job and spend the next 3 years on pigrimage studying and practising Dharma…. magic indeed

  • Ashley says:

    My adventure-grabbing moment occurred, paradoxically, when I refused an adventure. Recently, I declined a position to work in Bhutan in favor of a second season in the same ski town.

    With a rampant addiction to the lure of the next adventure, I have unceasingly flitted around the globe. Lately, however, I’ve found myself planning my next trip mostly because this has become my established persona: permanently temporary, a vagabond with an exciting travel story. Upon reflection, I discovered that I actually feared choosing the typical “boring” path.

    Finally able to identify and face my fears, I’m in the midst of a peak moment as I pack my car, load my skis and prepare to reconnect with old friends and establish familiar routines. It may not be the most glamorous peak or involve far-flung countries with unpronounceable names, but for me, it means taking a leap into a new kind of adventure with its own (admittedly boring) challenges. For now, I’m going to savor my temporary permanence.

  • I love all of these sharings and appreciations of one’s own truth. Thanks everyone!

    Like others, I had 14. A few of my peaks were fortunate events where my dream came true, such as getting into the wonderful gallery that changed the trajectory of my career. So I was curious why I included a painful event. I realized that that painful event was actually a victory because it brought about a clear decision to move into liberation. When I looked more closely at my list, the majority of my peaks were moments when I took a stand to say “this is who I am going to be.”

  • Chatty says:

    The peak experience in my life was a bittersweet. It may not have been exciting, but it was the most rewarding. My dad was given three months to live, and the doctor recommended he go to a nursing home. He was 76 years old, had a clear mind, and could still go out, using a walker. Long story short…Our family kept him out of a facility. We took turns staying with him. I lived away, so I would go back and forth, staying a week or two at a time.

    My dad lived for 13 months after his diagnosis. The time we spent together helped me to learn about life, death, faith and healing. I also learned you need an advocate! I was my dad’s. It is amazing how others feel authorized to dictate (conform) your life and death.

    Even though my dad had leukemia and went through some pretty rough treatments, he wasn’t suffering. I believe his last year was one of his best. Just as it was mine.

  • Mon says:

    One word: Australia.

  • Rhina says:

    A peak moment for me was on a visit home to see my parents who were still living in my hometown in Zambia. I had the opportunity to go whitewater rafting down the Zambezi River but had no friends or siblings with me. So, completely out of my comfort zone, and with a bunch of strangers, I took the hike down the river, set off in the boat, starting out under the Victoria Falls, and spent the rest of the day rafting down a wild river and having one of the most exhilarating days of my life! No regrets and so proud of myself for doing it!

  • Hannah says:

    In no particular order, I’ve had many peak experiences with food. Touch; giving & receiving. Teaching. Watching patient’s lives transform through homeopathic treatment. Traveling to many stunning places far and near, and relishing the preciousness of the moment. The gorgeous, omnipresent beauty of nature. Finishing cancer treatment. Seeing Todd Rundgren acappella, Talking Heads, Sigur Ros, and many other musicians live in concert. Summer camp in Maine when I was 14. Winning a scholarship at h.s. graduation. X-country skiing in the lower Alps. Practicing Qi gong in a matriarchal village in China. Painting, and selling paintings. Dancing all night outside in the desert; climbing a giant cat’s cradle sculpture at Burning Man. Meeting my spiritual mama in Maui for the first time. Deciding to move to Minneapolis and take an art sabbatical.

    What I noticed from this exercise is how much MORE I create peak experiences and take bigger risks as I get older. Getting older ain’t so bad ;-}}

  • Lauren says:

    In 1999, I accepted a 3 month work assignment in Wales without really thinking through all the implications first (like the fact that I’d be expected to drive myself around in a manual transmission car on the left side of the road). It wasn’t easy at first, but 7 years later my husband and I moved to that same city and have now become an expert at traveling to unfamiliar countries. I’d always dreamed of living in another country and I’ve made it happen.

    In 2003, I completed the MS 150, biking 150 miles over 2 days to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research. I’d never biked more than a couple miles before that.

    Just a month ago, I forced myself to face my fear of heights and took an intro course to rock climbing. On the first wall, I gave up after a few feet. Frustrated with myself, I tackled every other wall I was faced with and ignored my hyperventilating and panic. The adrenaline rush was amazing! Now I need to make this more than just a one-off occurrence.

  • Wyman says:

    I have so enjoyed all your moments.

    After building a house out of used lumber from two $100 cabins we dismantled from a saw mill we left a comfortable and fun life in Northern California.

    Our boys were 4, 9 and 11. I was hired to teach art and plan an art program for American Soma. We had been married 17 years. We wanted our boys to have the adventure of living in another culture.

    It was one of our finest memories as a family.

    We have moved around a lot and had a great 54 years of marriage so far. Do it while you are young. Foot surgery and too many pounds have slowed me down.

    My next peak moment will be getting under 300 pounds and then….

    See you in Portland in June.

  • Farid says:

    I had a few on my list and I’ve been blessed with many adventures over the years. The one listed here is conventional but very special:I’d been working on a project in Tokyo for a month and my wife and 14 month old daughter were back in Johannesburg, South Africa. The day I returned, armed with Teddy bear I went to fetch my daughter from day-care. I was so worried that she may not recognise me or that she may be indifferent when I arrived. Our eyes met as I appeared at the classroom door. A forever moment of recognition. Then she squealed, bounded over and put her arms around my leg.

  • Elisa says:

    I can think of a couple peak moments in my 25 years of life, but what stood out first in my mind was from the summer of 2009. For starters, since I was 16 I’ve had a struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. Some days are better than others, but you can never be sure when an attack will hit you. This summer I decided to not let this problem affect my life anymore. I got on an airplane and headed to Morocco completely alone (as a side note, I HATE to fly). There I stayed with my NOW husband and his parents. Everyone told me I was crazy doing this since I never met the guy in person before (which I totally agree with now), but by the grace of God, I was safe and very well taken care of. I stayed there for 2 months and now I’m looking forward to my return visit, God willing. Allahu akbar (God is great)!

  • jules says:

    I am sad about this post. it is my belief we have been indoctrinated to seek peak moments instead of being present NOW. life is NOT peak moments. they come- and we are happy for them, they changew us somehow, we hope. but to believe that they are the pinnacle (ha!) is, in my opinion, a quick way to find discontent in daily life. chop wood, carry water. that is a peak experience for a wise person.

  • I had another thought as I read and participated in this post. I realized that all the great events in my life were created by ME. I know at first glance people might think “well that is hardly insightful”.

    I think many people forget as they grind through life that the best moments in their life were created by them. If people were more aware and conscious of this then they would have a powerful insight.

    If I want more amazing experiences in my life all I have to do is create them, alas that is what I have always done.

  • Marthe says:

    I think one of my peak moments was when I decided to quit my job to travel in south east asia (in 2008). My job wouldn’t let me take (unpaid) time off in christmas season, and I decided it wasn’t worth it to keep the job and forget my travel plans.

    I have never looked back. It was totally worth it and I had a great journey!

  • Angie says:

    Quitting my job and moving to Iowa to care for my mother as she lost her battle with cancer. It was a peak moment not because it was a “success” but because, like no other time in my life, I was absolutely clear on what was important in my life and I felt the strongest love I’ve ever known. Holding her hand through it was the most important thing I’ve ever done.

    Following that experience I decided to not be afraid–of anything (easier said than done!). My job in life became an ongoing process to LIVE and honor what is true in my heart. So far it has led to graduate school in Denmark studying textile design, something I’ve loved since I was a child.

    Here’s to LIVING with courage and passion!
    *a

  • Sodiqa says:

    The year was 1995. Everybody laughed when I said I wanted to study Librarianship. “You need a DEGREE for that ??????”, was the inevitable question. All my friends went on to study law, business and science but I wanted to explore the world of information. It was my final year and I was completing the practical part of my studies at the Library of Parliament. I volunteered to help out at the Constitutional Assembly because they were very short staffed and I was keen to help out where I could. Because of my volunteer work I had the opportunity to have dinner with Nelson Mandela – a memorable period in my life! Proves that it’s not WHAT you do but HOW you do it. You can never go wrong if your intentions are good.

  • The first thing that came to mind was when my first opera, Abinadi, was performed at Brigham Young University. I was invited to be a part of the production team and got to see the entire creative process of bringing a work, my work, to the stage. It was a transformative experience.

  • Meri says:

    One peak moment was when I graduated from college. I’d had a dream since childhood to get an education. This wasn’t easy for me as my parents were blue-collar folks with little money and no enthusiasm at all for the idea. However, I found a way, and actually made it into a top college. I went to school with kids whose parents were senators and movie stars–and there I was, this working-class girl. When I graduated, I thought I could do anything I wanted to do. After all, I only had a GED when I started! That’s right, I hadn’t even graduated high school. Yet I earned high grades, as high as my classmates who’d gone to fancy dancy private schools and had private tutors helping them with their coursework!

  • Two years ago I traveled to south China to find the village of my great grandfather, Ben Mar (aka Ma Bing Sum). It wasn’t easy, because I only knew the name of the district, which has 11 villages. I was directed to a 99-year-old man in one village. As I showed Old Mr. Ma photos of my great-grandpa and an old letter written by my uncle, Mr. Ma spluttered with excitement. My great-grandpa came from his very village. He opened a red book with the names of the village’s male ancestors, and there were the names of Ma Bing Sum and his sons. Mr. Ma said that when he was a boy Ma Bing Sum had briefly returned. So he had met him! He then pointed me to a house a few doors down, which had belonged to Ma Bing Sum and his brother. What a find! This year, I returned to celebrate Mr. Ma’s 101st birthday, and to meet a cousin – her great-grandpa was Ma Bing Sum’s brother. On these visits, I learned a lot of history for a novel I’m writing, loosely based on the history of my Chinese-Mexican grandma.

  • Kim Lampe says:

    The moment I acted on an intention to respond with unconditional love. It was love of self which was the universal mirror.

  • Ame' K says:

    I’ve never been what you would call physically fit, strong yes but not physically fit. In eighth grade, I decided that I wanted to show I wasn’t just some plump, lazy, bookworm. I walked/jogged three miles everyday, played volleyball and basketball, ran track, lifted weights, and did pilates regularly. I felt great!

    Some of the “preppies” at school however didn’t want me to feel the fullness of my success. They constantly told me I was fat, and I was lying about my times. Then the final track practice of the year came . . . Our coach decided she wanted to challenge us to run an 800 (half a mile). I ran these all the time since they were my event catagory. We lined up on the line. Coach Hult raised the flag. One, two, three, go! Half of the preppies fell behind after only one lap, and I finished the rest off on the second. They stared at me in disgust, but I just smiled.

  • Crewing a tall ship from Toronto to the Bahamas over seven weeks. Seeing Boston for the first time, via Boston Harbour and then sailing down the Hudson River into New York for my first visit there, were pretty spectacular experiences.

  • Amaya says:

    A peak moment for me was when I finally succeeded in doing the Head Stand! For years I’d had a mental block about turning myself upside down.

    Finally at a Sivananda Yoga Retreat in South India I was able to master this posture

    But it wasn’t easy. Day after day I would witness pure beginners being able to do what was impossible for me, even after years of
    practice. I tried and I tried, I consulted all the various teachers and finally one day, like magic, I was up on my head.

    This was a peak moment for me because I’d never before pursued anything in my life with as much persistence.

  • John says:

    Maybe one of the peak moments that I had is when I went hiking in Sedona, Arizona. Most memorable trip I will treasure! See it for yourself!

  • Poppy says:

    The most monumental “peak” moment of my life came a few months ago, after 32 years of pre-paving the auspicious moment. In 1978, in Florida, I was madly in love with a guy who was a junior. Two weeks before my graduation, we parted; hearts were broken; timing was not right. I went home to WI, married, bore children, divorced, got an advanced degree, and worked. Serendipity had not brought us together in 32 years, although I had looked for him 3 times, and as recently as December ’09.

    6 months ago, he found me; the timing was right. With a leap of faith, serendipity, availability on both of our parts, and positive intentions, we were able to close the loop on a first love that is now a last love. We are engaged and will marry in a few months.

    I believe peak moments can only occur when we have mindfulness of thought and heart – being open to a plethora of possibilities. With positivity as a cornerstone in every inter-relation, we have the opportunity for great joy.

  • Olga says:

    It’s funny how your blog posts come at the most fortuitous moments in my life. I decided about a week ago, that I will live every day adventurously. Having come back from my self-funded work abroad for a month program, I figured that the adventure doesn’t have to stop once I am home. So, since I have been back (which is only 3 days), I have received a cookie bouquet out of the blue, lost 1 shoe out of my bag only to go on a scavenger hunt to find it, gone to a Buddhist temple to listen to a Danish singer and not sure what will happen today!

    To answer your question: One of my fondest peak moments was when I took my parents out to NYC for a nice tapas dinner and paid for it. I was so excited to finally get to the point of treating them!

  • One of them was definitely saving my coworker’s dogs when he was in rehab. I posted about that on the “What Would You Do if You Could not Fail” thread. Every animal rescue I manage is like that, but when you touch a person’s life in this way it’s…indescribable!

    Another was applying for the AOL 25for25 Grant. I did not win one, but just knowing I could put myself and my work out there made me feel really extraordinary, because I had never done anything like that before.

    I’m always looking for new ways to experience peak moments!

  • These stories are wonderful. Some of them brought me to tears! Beautiful stuff.

    Just wanted to share another one–a more mundane one.

    When I first met my boyfriend, we were both just interested in being friends. We had both come from really horrific situations and were just trying to get back to meeting people and re-learning what “normal” was. The 2nd time we hung out, I had had a date who canceled on me, so I invited my boyfriend. At one point, I dropped my pen under the table we were sitting at, and I bent down to pick it up. When I sat up, he had his arm around the back of my chair. I felt a jolt of electricity, and a part of me just KNEW.

    I resisted the relationship for a few days, and I think he did, too, but after a week, I just said “Oh, to hell with it. I want to give this a try.” And we did. February will mark our 4 year anniversary.

    We are very close, even though we both came pretty damaged. We have simply taken our bad experiences as lessons.

  • Tippie says:

    One peak moment I had this year was when you visited my blogsite and commented that “Shining is good.” It pushed me to making my whatnot thoughts public, and that became my stepping stone in making more sense and form in what I write.

    Thank you, Chris!

    Visit SEA again soon, and make Manila one of your drop offs!

  • RalfLippold says:

    There several peak moments in my life which have made an impact:

    1. Meeting jay Forrester and talking with him on understanding the world
    2. A phone call to John Sterman’s office at MIT (which lead to Lean Thinkers Treffen (LTT), Beergame and System Dynamics)
    3. Thrown out of my current job by surprise twice (DVB AG and BMW AG) which has led to the most interesting and great experiences (even though with a burn in my heart, as the small changes (foundation for the bigger) there I had inititated are lying “dead still” now)
    4. Thrown into different cultures through moving jobs, cities, communities (mainly through conversations with friends from across the ocean, either USA or Australia)

  • Ted Canfield says:

    In no particular order. Getting married. Having two children. Sneaking over to the spot where the divers dive off the cliffs of Acapulco and jumping. First kiss. First jump off high dive.

  • Laura says:

    I am living one of my peak moments now. After living in the Boston area for over 25 years, my husband and I pulled our two young boys out of school in the beginning of March this year to move to Austin to start a company. Completely out of my comfort zone (new house, new job, new people, etc.), I have opened myself up to the greatness of this town and its people and am enjoying every minute of it!

  • shona cole says:

    these were all fun to read.

    the first moment to stand out to me was when the phone call came to say my Green Card was ready. I had just climbed out onto the porch roof of my parents home to start painting it when the phone rang. My mother came to tell me it was the American embassy and she said ‘I guess you won’t be helping me after all’. I felt thrilled, sad, scared and determined all at once. After a flurry of phone calls my final flight was booked and in days I was heading from Ireland to the US to join my new husband who was already in the States (his visa to be in Europe had expired).

    Little did I know that 5 years later I would experience the next big moment of my life – giving birth to my 1st of 5 kids.

    Oh, buying my first home is up there too. The thrill of padding around on wooden floors that I had paid for was wonderful.

    And deciding to opt out of the normal world and homeschool, I can remember that clearly too.

    thanks for this exercise…

  • One of the moments that changed most in my life was probably when I moved out of my mom’s to go to London after two years of waiting for that day.
    I’ve originally been on a holiday in London and randomly found a job that could provide me the money I needed to live in the city I love (I hated the job and quit it after eight months, but it helped me anyway). So I went back to Vienna for two weeks and when I went back to the UK my life changed together with the time zone :)

  • Paul says:

    Doing this exercise showed me, that I lived many of these rewarding moments in my life. But, I ask myself which one was the first one.

    The first:
    I was born in former East Germany. Where, the socialist had established a well structured uniform system, which everybody followed ( most of the people). I said the first time “No”, with the age of fourteen, when the whole age group ( all schools in the country) joyed traditionally an socialist organisation for young people.
    I remember to start thinking, which of my friends will still stay on my side, dispite my clear “non conformity”. What will the system do against me?
    The result were few discussions with my teacher and the Head of school, a lot of free time (since I did not had to go to all there meetings), no “causulties” of friends and a great lesson in life.

  • I would say that one of my peak moments was when I had just started guest posting for other blogs and had asked a number of bloggers to guest post. However, I really admired one blogger in particular and had been reading his blog for months before that moment.

    At first, I was nervous about giving him my topic idea and then the written guest post. I was partly afraid that I would get rejected, and another part of me hoped that he would like the guest post and include it on his blog, since I had spent a lot of time writing that guest post (over 2 hours).

    However, after a week or so of not hearing back from him after giving him my guest post draft, I checked my email one day and received a message from him. Nervous, I opened the email and gave it a look.

    Turns out, he loved my guest post!

    I can’t even describe how excited I was then. I jumped up and down in my seat. I got up and twirled around in the air (hard to imagine, I know). But I was just giddy with excitement and a whirlwind of emotions were coursing through my body.

    Though it might not sound like much to some people, this peak moment meant a lot to me, mainly because I was actually talking to someone I’d been admiring for a very long time. Every time I find myself losing motivation, I would just replay what I felt then and motivation would spark in me again.

  • Curtin says:

    Taking the microphone in a Hong Kong karaoke bar and singing Frank Sinatra for my new Asia and European friends was my peak moment two years ago. The live band gave me a smile and I felt like the MC of this rag-tag bunch of backpackers and locals alike. My impromptu trip to Asia had me tingling as I had no plans of leaving Chicago only two days earlier. I still am in touch with those folks and have even started a non-profit with one of them.

    Best 60 seconds I’ve spent in a long time.

  • Thomas Moviel says:

    In December 2002, when I was completely frustrated with my life and tired of the corporate world. I realized in a moment that everything I wanted for myself in life was provided by the Peace Corps. 6 months later I was off to spend 2 amazing years in Romania as a Business Development Advisor.

    The experience opened me up to great friends, great times, and great travels to places like Egypt, Hungary, and spending 2 months afterwards traveling the Trans-Siberian Rail.

    Best career decision I’ve ever made.

  • Jim Johnson says:

    Going skydiving with my wife (first time for both of us) on my anniversary.

    Hiking along the inner circle of the island of Santorini, and watching the sun set in Oia.

    Being at a pub in Doolin, Ireland after it closed, listening to the people who stayed singing and playing instruments after the performers were all done for the night.

    Riding the MS150, a two-day 180-mile bike ride from Houston to Austin. Finishing the Chicago Marathon. Finishing a triathlon – even just the sprint was enough.

    Working on productions of Tryst with an amazing director and cast – artists who were truly open.

    Almost every time I get customer feedback on my site – when I know I’m accomplishing what I want to accomplish.

  • Christina says:

    My first bungy jump – I was so scared, wanted to turn back, but did it anyway, and it was the most amazing thing i had ever done and conquered my fear of heights at the same time.

    My second bungy jump a year and a half later – this time I couldn’t wait to jump off the bridge! And afterwards I thought “This was rather unspectacular compared to the first. Now I can really do anything.”

    Making friends for life in all the places I have visited.

    Being able to share my passion of all things foreign and travel with my partner.

  • Natasha says:

    I lived in Japan for 2 years as an English teacher. Near the end of our contract, I went to the island of Yakushima with a few friends. Yakushima has a temperate rainforest and, at the top of a mountain, one of the oldest cedar trees in the world, the Jomon Sugi (giant cedar). We climbed all day, leaping (and tripping) over swollen tree roots and streams, and racing each other through the forest. Finally we arrived at Jomon sugi, and, get ready for the cheese, it was like looking at the face of time. The tree was a chalky white, wizened, and still. One of my peak moments without a doubt.

  • Love, love, LOVE this…thank you for opening this up, Chris (and thank you for asking!)

    Peak Moments are so instrumental in helping us to see who we are (i.e. our core values). One of my peak experiences had precious little to do with what I would consider some of my life’s highlights, but was moreover a moment that I felt completely in flow and like myself. I was on stage doing a campaign speech in Bill/Ted character in High School (playing a goof, essentially)…and connecting heartily with my audience. Core values that showed up their were performance, connection, impact and play.

    See you in June!
    TG

  • Darlene says:

    Like many other people many of mine involve travel overseas. These come to mind

    - first plane trip by myself age 19 for work experience
    - NAIT (photography college, 2 yrs) all of it, changed me in a big way
    - 3 week trip to Peru in 2007, deeply affected by the people and want to go back and do more to help them
    - seeing Machu Picchu
    - climbing up to Hyuana Picchu (even though I’m deathly afraid of heights)
    - doing several personal growth courses that stretched me farther than I could have imagined, but in good ways
    - first overseas trip which was to New Zealand
    - first trip to Asia, stayed with a friend’s family, lived how they lived – THAT is the way to experience a country for real
    - winning Photographer of the Year in Alberta in 2006

  • Vanessa Mary says:

    Selling a painting at a very prestigious art auction in my hometown of St.John’s, Newfoundland(have you been here yet by the way? would love to show you around!). The art scene here is very highly regarded in Canada and gaining momentum thanks to a major tourist boom. It can be hard to break into it but that moment in time of selling my painting (to a well known local collector) was mind blowing. I have little in the way of formal training, about 4 years of formal and informal education and volunteer work, but I see that passion is what you really need.

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