Post 11 of 36
We long for peak experiences or great moments in life. Natural highs are intense, exhilarating experiences that affirm the best in us. They do not depend on substances and are physically, emotionally, and mentally empowering. They serve as rewards for our accomplishments and confirm that we are on the path to maturity, love, and mastery.
How Do We Experience Natural Highs?
We can experience natural highs when we set a challenging goal and meet our objectives. For example, students enjoy a natural high at the end of a four-year track of rigorous studies, course work, and examinations. All the hard work and discipline invested in passing exams and getting good grades is appreciated and validated in the graduation ceremony. Family and friends are proud of the graduates' accomplishments and shower them with loving praise.
Another kind of natural high comes through overcoming physical challenges. For instance, after facing all kinds of difficulties, mountain climbers experience delight and triumph upon reaching the summit. In sports, such exhilaration can come with scoring a goal, winning a tournament, earning a trophy, or just in knowing that we gave the game our best effort.
Natural highs can accompany the second life goal of loving relationships and families. Falling in love is a natural high; it cements two people with the strong bond they need to carry them through a lifelong marriage. Parents experience a natural euphoria when a child is born, speaks its first words, and achieves recognition for accomplishments.
Using our creativity and mastery to contribute to society offers additional opportunities for natural highs. We all have a creative spark that can be expressed in some way. Each of us has a potential for masterful achievements in some field. Musicians experience bliss when the music they hear in their mind is perfectly expressed through their instruments. Walking in the woods in the springtime and seeing the flowers blooming can be a natural high, reawakening a love of nature and inspiring art or poetry. Making an unforgettably delicious meal is a source of genuine pride. Persevering and solving a challenge, after everyone else gave up on it, is thrilling. The baby who has successfully taken its first step radiates exuberance and moves forward with confidence into the arms of its excited parents.
Thinking About a Greater Purpose
The purpose for the three life goals is not only for our own happiness but to bring joy to others as well. Sometimes when everything seems to be too much or isn’t working out, it helps to think about a greater purpose. Back in the day when our four children were between 3 and 9, my husband and I were bored of the day to day existence. We thought we could barely cope. Fortunately, we were inspired to participate in a special outreach. We went to Korea for a forty-day training that concluded in picking a name of a country to feel responsible for. No one knew which country they would get through the lottery type drawing. We drew The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), a country of 600 islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.
This broadened our perspective, but we still didn’t have much money. Day by day and month by month we put our vision to move there and invested ourselves completely. Ray, my husband went for extended visits a few times and I went once before we all packed up and moved. It seemed like as soon as we decided on this greater purpose, our appraising business picked up and money started flowing in. Our families helped as well. We moved from New Jersey to California and were able to live with my brother’s family on our grandparent’s ranch. My parents helped getting us set up with appraising in California by giving us money for a computer, software, professional fees, and a used car. When we first made the decision to do something in FSM, we felt a calling and just went on faith. Step by step the pathways opened.
Finally, the day came when we were packed up and ready to move as a family to FSM. We flew from California to Hawaii first. Here we were having an unexpected family “vacation” in Hawaii! Our next stop was in Guam. We stayed a weekend there with another family we had been corresponding with who also chose FSM in that workshop a few years prior. From Guam we flew to the island of Chuuk and then finally to the island of Pohnpei in FSM.
There was no fanfare when we arrived. In fact, I don’t think anyone was expecting us, but our hearts were beating in jubilation. We had rented a car online without any questions about our address, credit card, or phone numbers. I don’t remember signing papers when they handed us the keys. We had visited before, so we knew the highest speed limit was 35 mph. There were no traffic signals and very few street signs. At that time, it was common practice to ride in the back of the pickups. The kids, now between 7 and 13, enjoyed our first couple of weeks riding in the back of our rented pickup even if they were often sprinkled upon in this tropical weather. We found a house to live in. Other families, who had also picked FSM, helped us to buy a used van and some basic furniture.
Investment Enables Natural Highs
We stayed for a few months until we ran out of money, but other families came. We returned another couple of times. Each time, everything was more familiar to us and each time we returned to the US, we experienced some culture shock. It was so much investment that we often experienced natural highs. First, we were able to go against all odds just to afford it. Then, it took a lot of investment moving and figuring out when and how to do things. The last time our whole family returned, we were given the highest treatment at the airport. We waited for our departure in an air-conditioned room reserved for dignitaries. We came away from our times in FSM with heartwarming experiences and memories of the most amazing people. In the end, we felt that we received so much more from the people in FSM than we had given. We can never forget this amazing country.
At the same time, we found a new appreciation for the United States. The abundance of everything is incredible. Driving on the highways with all the lanes, and cars, and lights, and signs, at the speed we were going was always our homecoming highs. Walking through a mall or a supermarket was itself a natural high. Home is what we were used to, and we were happy to see the US again, but FSM was also home. We miss the slow pace, the traditional festivities, the dense green foliage, the view of the ocean, the family ties, the generous spirit of community, and yes, the simplicity of life.
How have you experienced a natural high?
What are some goals you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime?
What is so exhilarating about your natural highs?
What goals have you accomplished after much effort and time?
How would it benefit you to think of even bigger things when you are barely able to do what you must do?
How can bringing joy to others benefit you?