I just read a fascinating article about extreme experiences.

Before I share the link, here are a few questions that will get us in the same headspace.

  • What do you really want to get out of (your) life?
  • Are you presently (or recently) experiencing lots of extreme emotions?
  • What drives your motivation for wanting ______ from life?

Ultimately, no one can tell you what “the best life” for you is, can they?

I can’t imagine that everyone wants the exact same thing, the answers that come up in each of us are far too individual and subjective to each human’s life.
Even the pursuit itself arises and evolves after a childhood (and beyond) of subjective, individual experiences.

But I think we can agree that all humans are… after something.

What’s the ‘something’?

Let’s dive into the article now.

The Scientific American speaks to some research around “happiness” (and seeking positive experiences) and “meaning” (including both positive and negative experiences).

Intense Experiences Shape Who We Are

Not-so-surprisingly, the studies indicate that it is not the valence of the experience that determines how much meaning-juice can be extracted… but rather the intensity of the experience

Said another way— extremely negative experiences and extremely positive experiences BOTH have an effect on the human that can go unnoticed in the “pursuit of happiness”:

…both experiences instigate an inquisition in the human

The Two Main Ways Extreme Events Shape Us

  1. Create emotional intensity (and a feeling of being fully alive)
  2. Instigate contemplation and self-reflection

There are so many theories we hold about the purpose of life. They arise from the depths, don’t they?

As you reflect on your own life, do you find the above to be true?  Have you been shaped by extreme events (more so than neutral, ordinary day to day experiences?)

You Might Want to Check Out…

If you personally find yourself wondering deeply about your emotions (especially the more troubling ones, like sadness, pain, anger, fear, grief, angst), you might be interested in:

  1. Reading the article about Extreme Experiences
  2. This post I wrote last year about books suitable for Midlife Crisis

I’ll leave you with a quote (below, taken from the Scientific American article).

And I hope you have … an intense day,

— Forrest

Quote: “Over 50 years ago, Abraham Maslow talked about the importance of “peak experiences,” which he described as “rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generated an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effects…” While people often talk about the euphoria of peak experiences, Maslow often pointed out how overcoming intense challenges and setbacks can be a key trigger for a peak experience.