I asked a group of clients to do a quick exercise. The results are amazing!
I asked each person to think back to one of the best moments in their life. As you’re reading this, you can think back, too.
The thread that was woven through all of the recalled moments carried a common theme. I’m guessing that your favorite moment does, as well.
What is true is that each person recalled a time in which their mind or body was stretched in the pursuit of something difficult or purposeful.
Everyone recalled a favorite moment that was the result of mental or physical effort. No ones’ best moment was at home watching TV. Their best moment was accomplishing something hard that was also worthwhile to them.
I personally do similar visualizations around impactful moments from my life often. A moment that continues to stick out for me occurred before my high school senior year. I was running for a statewide office in a student journalist organization. Each candidate gave a speech at the yearly convention to hundreds of other students in a theater-style university lecture hall.
I had spent considerable time crafting this speech. I wanted to deliver a memorable speech that would persuade a delegation of largely my 16 & 17 year old peers to vote for me. It was my only shot at “campaigning” prior to the elections. I thought the way to these teenagers’ hearts and to the ballot was through humor.
Being elected was important to me. As an aspiring journalism major in college, I believed that winning this election would be much needed extra-curricular activity for my upcoming college admissions. I was also interested in leading the newly formed office for “electronic communications.” (I know… I’ve aged myself.)
I was nervous about the speech. I spent the hours leading up to it practicing, editing, refining. I had never been deliberate around being funny to gain influence before. I knew I had to strike the right balance between entertaining and persuading. After all, this wasn’t a time to mess around, I wanted to win.
When the host called my name, I knew it was showtime.
I nailed it! My first effort at humor early in the speech landed. The audience laughed. I felt I had the entire room in my hand for the duration of my speech. I’m not sure if that was actually true, yet it felt true to me. I don’t remember much about what I said and that doesn’t matter to me. My truth is that I worked hard, put myself out there and it worked. The speech went over well and I won the election.
In his foundational positive psychology book “Flow” renowned researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that it’s through the effort toward a meaningful goal that we experience optimal moments.
It’s unrealistic to believe that each day will deliver moments that would rival the best in your life. What we can take away is how to intentionally structure our activities so that we constantly live in great moments:
- Have a meaningful goal or a healthy challenge
- Put in effort toward to achieve the goal or make it through the challenge
This will keep us focused on what’s important to us. We’ll have more mental fortitude to push ourselves to willingly engage in great effort to get desired results. We’ll create more internal motivation and more goals hit & surpassed. Plus, we’ll enjoy it a lot more than if we saw the activity simply as a struggle.
If we do this each day, everyday might not produce a lifelong best moment… yet any day could. I’ll take that. I bet you will, too!