Do you remember the feelings of freedom and playfulness you had as a child? Have you had experiences of being in the flow as an adult? Have you enjoyed sensations of elation, elevation, and deep contentment? These experiences are what can be called peak states, and they don’t have to be fleeting and random—you can cultivate them with a few easy methods.
So many people are living “lives of quiet desperation,” as Thoreau put it. They are striving, struggling, and sacrificing. They are starving at the banquet table of life, but they may never disclose that to others. In fact, many people who are suffering put on a happy persona to the outside world. That’s why it’s so baffling when they choose to end their lives. People like tWitch, Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and so many others have struggled with being in a dark place and unsure of how to navigate the terrain of the valley.
If you’re struggling yourself, know that you’re not alone, and there are some strategies that can shift your neuro-psycho-physiology for the better.
How to Access and Sustain Peak States
There are so many practices to achieve peak states, and I won’t be able to cover all of them. I will, however, review several that will guide you to an exploration of your own potential. As a psychotherapist, coach, and speaker who is committed to helping others realize their full potential, I engage so many powerful, talented people who have limited themselves due to messages they’ve received from family, peers, media, and more. This breaks my heart to witness. You are more capable of living the life you desire and experiencing elevated wellbeing than you may think.
Peak State Strategy #1: Open the Heart
My first strategy to access peak states is to open the heart space and become intimately acquainted with your emotions. Too many people are scared to know their emotions, and this is a disservice to themselves. Emotions are powerful when you learn to work with them. They are your allies, even when they are uncomfortable and inconvenient. Do not skip over doing the inner work of your emotional life. Learning to master the art of feeling is a superpower that puts you in control of your heart, mind, behaviors, and life.
Research from the HeartMath Institute tells us that energy emanating from your heart is much stronger than your brain, and that energy from the heart helps create a powerful quantum field. Many experts say we’re not using all of our brain power. I’m suggesting that we’re barely utilizing our heart’s capacity. In fact, many people think their emotions rather than actually feeling them.
Research in positive psychology shows that when we focus on feeling positive emotions, often referred to as PQ, our happiness, mental health, and performance benefits. Research also reports that our immune system improves as we experience positive emotions like love, gratitude, and inspiration. Try focusing on feeling these three emotions more often over the next 30 days, and see how you feel and how things shift.
It’s important to not try to only experience positive emotions—a phenomenon called toxic positivity—but it’s also essential for you to know and understand your darker emotions, like fear, anxiety, and sadness. These emotions are a part of your humanity and wholeness and your road to achieving peak states regularly.
To honor and empathize with yourself, all of who you are, is another superpower that is rarely discussed or practiced. Many people want to flee a difficult emotion. Instead, practice staying in it a bit longer to understand yourself better and be less afraid of the darker moments. As a psychotherapist and coach, I see deeper emotions arising in my clients from childhood because they were not felt and honored. Often, they weren’t even understood. Many people have been taught to minimize their feelings and experiences. This is doing a disservice to your evolution and reaching your full potential.
When I was a teenager, I suffered from depression. There were times when I didn’t even want to exist anymore. I didn’t have a plan to harm myself, but I felt defeated and desperate at times. My parents, self-taught entrepreneurs, were super busy and didn’t have the skills to care for me emotionally. They weren’t taught how to do this for themselves, so how could they do it for me? Like me, you may have had feelings of loneliness and abandonment as a child. If you haven’t done the work to heal those wounds, they may still be active and operating in your life and sabotaging you. This brings me to my second strategy.
Peak State Strategy #2: Create Behavioral Success
What behaviors make you feel happy, capable, and elevated? These are the things you need to be doing on the regular to reach your potential. I enjoy things like dancing, meditating, and spending time with my family and friends, just to name a few. These are my priorities, and I do them on a consistent basis. You must make yourself and what lights you up a priority. These things are non-negotiable.
Make a list of the behaviors that elevate you. Note how often you are engaging in them. Ask yourself if you need more consistency. Perhaps you need to switch things up or try something new. Sometimes I hike in the woods alone instead of dancing. Sometimes I need quiet alone time rather than time with loved ones. As you go through seasons and cycles, your needs will change. Tune in to yourself to know when that happens. Meditation and contemplation are my best behavioral strategies for doing that.
Peak State Strategy #3: Shift Your Mindset
You’ve most likely heard the phrase “Where focus goes, energy flows.” It’s true. When you master your thoughts, you master much of your life. Thoughts direct emotions and behaviors. Your mindset is formed by beliefs. Are you aware of what you believe?
Journal 10-20 beliefs you hold currently: about yourself, others, and life itself. Continue to do this on a regular basis to understand your mindset better. Once you understand it, you get better at improving it. Becoming conscious is the first step. Beliefs are thoughts that you think repeatedly. They are often formed earlier in life and become entrenched in your mind as truth. You get to choose what thoughts you will focus on. Self-efficacy is empowered sovereignty. You are not dependent on external circumstances to achieve peak states. Go within for sustained personal power and peace.
There are many ways to enhance your mindset to create confidence, courage, and clarity. You might like to explore some practices like PSYCH-K, self-hypnosis with Marisa Peer, meditation with Joe Dispenza, or visualization and personal development with Vishen Lakhiani.
You may also enjoy reading inspirational books by authors like Jay Shetty, Jamie Kern Lima, or Robin Sharma. Feeling inspired on a daily basis is a wonderful way to invest in your mindset. The word inspire translates to “in spirit.” Allowing your spiritual beliefs to inform you impacts your mindset, behaviors, and emotions. The influence of spirit goes beyond logic and often carries people across the threshold of limitations and what they believed was possible—for themselves, others, and the world.
These are the foundational blocks to achieve peak states more consistently in your life. Taking a deeper dive into your heart space, behaviors, and mindset will result in an elevated and expanded way of feeling and being in the world. Peak states don’t always mean applause, accolades, and moments of thunder and lightning. They can often be found in the quiet beauty of stillness and knowing.
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