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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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August 28 2012

20 Ways to Cultivate IE in Your Life

By Mark Sisson
123 Comments

Recently, I caught up with an old friend of mine. He’d just returned home from a trip to the Northern Midwest, where they rented a cabin on one of the Great Lakes with family. He showed me pictures of his kids. Being used to a landlocked existence, his 6-year-old daughter had been wholly enthralled by the vastness of the lake, which she referred to as the ocean throughout the entire trip. One afternoon as their younger child napped, he took his older daughter to a nearby park reserve for a bit of exploration. She was mesmerized by a river gorge and more so by the brave, unruly souls who were hurling themselves off a rock ledge into the borderline hypothermic water hole below. What ultimately drew her in that afternoon, he explained, was a sandy beach cove lined with enough tall jagged boulders to make a dramatic show of the temperamental lake’s waves. She ran along that beach all afternoon, he said, scrambling up rocks, dancing along the shore, teasing the waves to catch her bare feet, and squealing at the cold and sheer exhilaration. In one picture, we stood looking out across the lake with outstretched arms, “commanding the sea,” as her dad described laughingly. When you’re six, after all, that’s entirely within the realm of possibility…. My friend’s eyes reflected a deep, parental sense of awe as he showed me the pictures and told me about that afternoon, his favorite time of the entire trip. He clearly marveled at his daughter’s innocent, wild wonder in the same way she marveled at the “ocean” that day.

Last week I introduced the Primal principle of IE – intermittent euphoria – to re-prioritize the peaks of life – the thrill, wonder, and amazement possible in this existence of ours. Thriving, after all, isn’t about accomplishing an inventory of “healthy” behaviors each day. It’s about living out the full measure of your humanity – in all its depth, vigor, and vitality. Euphoria, of course, isn’t something you can summon at will. It doesn’t lend itself to a handy checklist. In fact, it most often catches us unaware. Nonetheless, we can cultivate a mindset and lifestyle conducive to euphoria – one that seeks adventure, values awe, and relishes discovery.

Euphoria comes when we venture ourselves in some way. We give it space when we let go of our self chatter, inner list making, and task orientation. We open ourselves to it when we release the tendency, as author Paul Pearsall puts it, to be “too self conscious to be fully conscious.” In prioritizing IE, we can pursue experiences with the power to elicit deep feeling (e.g. fear, awe, connection) and simply cultivate a mindset open to wonder. Here you’ll find some modestly proposed ideas to galvanize a good Primal life with some intermittent opportunity. I hope you’ll add your own ideas to the conversation.

  1. Witness the wonder others experience. Seeing your child filled with awe is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding moments of parenting. You can encounter it, however, in your aging parents, close friends, your partner, nieces/nephews, and complete strangers. Seeing that unmistakable look in others’ eyes inevitably unlocks something in ourselves. We can be deeply moved witnessing another person’s awe.
  2. Make your own list of “natural wonders” you want to see. Make #1 your next vacation destination.
  3. Find – and regularly enjoy – music that sends chills running through you. If you can, see it performed live.
  4. Spend an entire day noticing things you know you otherwise overlook in a typical hurried day. Observe puddle reflections. Examine the trees in your neighborhood. Watch your children’s myriad expressions throughout an afternoon hike.
  5. Read books that make you feel you’re living inside the story.
  6. Watch (or attend!) events that evoke a sense of connectedness and wonder. It’s little surprise I’m a fan of the Olympics. To this day, I relish the moment in the opening ceremonies of the Barcelona Summer Games when the archer lit the cauldron with that flaming arrow. How many hundreds of millions – or perhaps billions – of people around the world hung on the arc of that arrow’s trajectory?
  7. Go for a long night walk in the woods, through the fields, along a beach. No flashlights.
  8. Invest in experiences.
  9. Volunteer on the front line of need. You may feel intimidated or maybe awkward. You won’t know the perfect thing to say handing out dinner to a young family in a soup kitchen. You will come away each time, however, having done something meaningful and having been changed in the process.
  10. Take up an “extreme” sport (it’s all relative here, folks) you’ve been pondering (e.g. deep sea diving/snorkeling, mountain climbing/tree climbing, trail running/trail hiking). Take a lesson. Sign up for an outing. If you’re already an extreme enthusiast, find a new destination or variation of your sport to challenge yourself.
  11. Indulge in nostalgia. Reread old letters or watch family videos. Getting wistful over memories can enhance our feeling of connectedness.
  12. Recall past experiences of euphoria. What have been the most thrilling, most meaningful hours of your life? What would’ve inspired you as a kid? Bring that fascination to whatever happens this day.
  13. Spend a day doing a novel kind of exploring. Go caving, map a trail, or set out on a hike with an artistic (e.g. photographic journal) or scientific (e.g. bird cataloging) goal in mind.
  14. Take an adventure vacation – as a personal retreat or a family project. Bike across the state, climb a triad of mountains, run a lighthouse for a week. It will be much more memorable than a hotel pool or standing in line at Orlando.
  15. Do something that scares you. (Anyone?) Revel in the sharp awareness that overtakes you. It’s a poignant dimension of being fully alive.
  16. Take on a creative project unlike anything you’ve committed to before. What do you want your opus to be? Begin it today.
  17. Spend a day in a busy public place (e.g. train station, popular coffee shop) and people watch. See how much you can learn or ascertain about the characters you encounter. Imagine their stories.
  18. Borrow a telescope or visit an area planetarium for their late night star gazing program.
  19. Find a beautiful vista-side or secluded outdoor “sit spot” and see what reveals itself in an afternoon.
  20. Put on a 6-year-old’s mindset for the day. Go out into the world – preferably the natural world. “Command” the waves, conquer the squirrels, orchestrate the clouds, hang from the tree branches, journey an animated path full of risk and marvel.

Thanks for reading today, everyone. Share what moves you to experience IE in life these days. Have a great week!

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123 thoughts on “20 Ways to Cultivate IE in Your Life”

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  1. MovNat, in Nature and lose yourself in the movement. Never fails for me.

    1. yes!! me, too. It really is a mindful practice and being mindful leads to euphoria.

  2. Once I climbed a tree with a three other people. Tree climbing is usually something I do alone but I was lucky to be accompanied by people with some shared interests. It was one of my best experiences… a psychedelic one – I don’t want to talk about drugs too often here, it being a health site, but it’s relevant to the experience.
    Two of us, the two I think were most enthusiastic about climbing the tree up to a platform someone had built, discussed as we were climbing how we felt like the tree was helping us climb and that we felt connected to its spirit and through it, the living earth below. We ended up hugging the tree on the platform. Climbing down I did some *slightly* risky maneuvers that probably required a lot of energy but it felt practically effortless and very smooth like the tree was controlling me and all I had to do was go with its flow. And I was bare foot for all this, which added to the experience. It definitely made me feel more grounded.

    1. I hear you on the psychedelic aspect. What a wonderful experience. Wow.

        1. I remember being on something and watching a Mash repeat back in the early nineties. It was the funniest thing I had ever seen in my life- oscillated between giggles and outright hysterics. Then my boyfriend and I went through to bedroom (my parents were away) and my ceiling turned into water and I had an informal chat to my long dead grandfather through the reflection.
          That was the first time. I didn’t take much thereafter, I only wanted an experience to understand what the deal was, but my friends took a fair bit recreationally and always went wondering in the woods among the big old trees. It was wild to see their reactions and hear their words.

    2. Can I just suggest that it might be a bad idea to climb trees on psychedelics, particularly if you’re doing any “risky maneuvers”. I have a friend who sustained a substantial head injury that way. A lifetime of anti-seizure meds isn’t particularly primal.

      Not that I’m against taking risks or climbing trees or psychedelics… all of which are worthwhile, but can backfire. Combining them however can be a recipe for disaster.

      1. I agree but that time I had good coordination (better than normal I think) and was reasonably sure I’d be safe. There are some substances that I feel confident being physically active under the influence of and others I think are best for chilling. That time there were three in my system – two of them I already had extensive experience climbing trees with and the other was basically an upper.
        I’ve also climbed trees drunk.. and learned not to repeat that. My back still hurts a bit from over two weeks ago when one moment I was walking along a branch, the next I was rolling around on the ground 8 feet or so below, with a thin branch I’d been holding on to for balance broken beside me.
        And there was the time around a couple months ago, after downing a bottle of red wine, I was pushing my shopping cart of belongings to my friends’ apartment at night and felt energetic and so decided to run. It was going well until the front wheels banged a curb that I hadn’t noticed. The cart flipped over, I cut my knee on it and landed on my head, getting a bit of a bump and doing sort of a rough somersault. I find what I did immediately after interesting, as it was on impulse: I sat there and rubbed my knee with one hand and the painful spot on my head with the other in circles – fairly synchronized I think – and it caused the pain to decrease drastically. While doing that I had a thought of trying to slightly speed-heal and reduce inflammation. Someone interrupted and asked from their balcony what I was doing and I told them I was trying to do some “friction voodoo shit”, which after being asked “What?” (for clarification apparently) I then explained as “trying to stimulate my nerves to get rid of my headache” then went somewhat sheepishly around the building.
        A little alcohol seems alright for monkeying around. I’ve climbed and been active slightly buzzed on it and just had to be careful. A lot makes events very unpredictable, especially because it can blind the frontal lobe and blunt decision-making ability, resulting in stupidity.
        I read a book called Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine, and the way alcohol’s action in the body was basically described in it is that it acts sort of like a free radical (it’s very reactive, attaching to just about whatever molecules it runs into), causing extreme disorganization and “randomness”, including in its effect on brain receptors and neuronal membranes and thus the flow of neurotransmitters.
        For me the worst dangers being active on drugs haven’t really been from a lack of coordination, as there’s many times I’ve been clumsy but careful, but from making bad decisions out of recklessness, over-confidence, excitability, and sometimes from a sort of tunnel-vision focus that, though concentrated, makes me miss important peripheral details. And of course the odd chemical glitch / brain fart, or even hesitation.

    3. http://www.sott.net/article/281051-Tree-hugging-is-good-for-you
      I knew it. I even sharpied something on part of a bridge after climbing a tree to get to a ledge beneath it mentioning something like this. It was close to “This spot is so chillin’, but be sure to touch the tree once in a while to use it as a conduit to the earth to resonate closer to its natural frequency, which is also your brain’s: 7.83Hz.”

  3. This is a great list and I’m sure many people have their own ways of finding IE but may not even realize it. I would advise AGAINST walking without a flashlight in the woods, unless it’s a really full mooon. There are far too many true predators in the woods west of Denver including bear, mountain lion, and moose. Unless you’re on a very established, well worn path, the other worry is falling over a tree log – something which I have done personally while trying this very thing years ago. Despite a full moon, the contrast is all off between the dark ground & dark objects. Now walking along a beach without a light pretty much sums up my idea of heaven. Thank you, Mark, as always for such insightful tips!

    1. I was thinking the same thing. My hubby was walking down our driveway from the road and nearly stepped on a copperhead. I’m less enthusiastic about night walks since then. No, I’m not a snake-phobe either.
      Otherwise, great list. Many of the things I have been doing all my life when I thought I was wasting time. 🙂

    2. Beware of the walking down the beach barefoot at night with no light, especially if it is an ocean beach with a reasonable population of small children. People seem to enjoy digging enormous holes in the sand on shell quests, and depending on where you are, there are risks of stepping on jellyfish. I used to think barefoot nighttime walks on the beach sounded like heaven, too, until I realized how much dangerous stuff (broken shells, broken glass, fish hooks, fish bones, jellyfish, deep holes, etc.) there was.

      1. … and the needles and pieces and broken glass! Not bowl spitting. In Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, my grandparents used to take my siblings and I for walks and I remember seeing needles and broken glass along the shore.
        I also remember seeing salmon that had shored themselves after migration. That seemed a bit pointless.

    3. Haha I was thinking about the same thing here in Arizona. I went hiking the other day and have to hike down at night. I was so scared, the innate fear arise. The whole time I feel like I might die, falling from the mountain any minutes ( well this happen when I hike down steep rocky mountains during the day too).

      But I was reading a book by this guy, Stuart Wilde, saying that walking in the wood in the dark is one of the thing that really evokes his senses, after a while your peripheral vision is activated, and it’s very meditative once you get over the fear and get used to it. I yet have to try it though. I am very scared of wilderness in the dark.

      I hike trails these days to reconnect all the time.
      I would go to the beach if I can since I grew up on a coast of Thailand; and my dad took me to a beach almost every weekend. Nostalgia!

      As for number 5, do something that scares you all the time– I do that in yoga by getting into inversions. rock climbing would do too 🙂

      1. Inversions during yoga as a means of scaring you in a positive way. Interesting! I’ll have to Youtube that one.

    4. Seriously? We can’t even get to 10 posts before someone goes fretting about the dangers of doing stuff that humans have been doing for hundreds of thousands of years? Predatory animals have been around as long as we have — it’s something we deal with.
      I’ve hiked in the foothills of Colorado (and plenty of other places out west) at all hours, and the risks of running into something that wants to eat you are extremely low. Besides, a little bit of spookiness makes things more exciting.

      1. When feeling threatened by wild animals an intimidation response is often a good way to go. Make yourself look bigger and make a lot of noise.
        You can fill a can with pennies, rocks etc. and shake it like a rattle. Maybe blow a whistle or carry an alarm. When I was younger going for walks in the woods I’d often bring a stick or metal pole with me partially out of fear, partially because it made me feel kind of badass.
        One night a few years ago I was walking home along a paved country road and saw three coyotes just off the side a bit past the ditch. One stayed where it was and two went off slightly to either side of it. I wasn’t sure if I spooked them or they were coordinating an attack as they then just stared at me so I put my arms out and walked towards the center one making growling noises and they all ran.
        Another night walking home at the top of a big hill I stopped, kneeling down on the road to get a water bottle out of my backpack, when a van came over the crest of the hill and illuminated five coyotes crossing the road around 20 feet in front of me. The van stopped and the coyotes maintained their relaxed trot, seeming completely unconcerned and uninterested in the van and me. That was quite a shock.

  4. I have never felt more alive then when I hit the ground after sky diving my first (and so far only) time. I literally threw my head back and screamed out of pure adrenaline, excitement, and joy. I felt like I had discovered the true meaning to life in that 30 sec free fall. I recommend the experience to anyone healthy enough to partake.

    1. Where did you sky dive? I’ll be doing this fairly soon. If not this year then next year! I plan on getting dozens of primal folks together to do this with. Bungee jumping and many more scary activities too.

      1. If it helps, I have a post about skydiving, entitled, Skydiving: 4 Things You Won’t Learn From A Movie” it gives some insight into the whole experience. I didn’t find it euphoric but it was life and mind altering.

        Every success!

        1. Great post!! This makes me want to officially skydive. Ill be adding it to my bucket list!

    2. Sky diving will happen for me this weekend, weather depending.
      For me, participating in BIG physically demanding events (half marathon, Tough Mudder) make me feel all giddy upon completion.
      I have Fibromyalgia, and living Primally has all but erradicated the worst symptoms, so these big physical challenges are REALLY big for me. I have come from a very dark, painful, emotionally draining place into this world of light, happiness and good health, so every time I complete an athletic challenge, I am absolutely HIGH on life! (Even though I am usually so physically exhausted that I should be collapsing into a bed. haha)
      I even rode my motorcycle 2 hours each way to participate in the “Tough Mudder” event held north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. That, my friends, is a picture of health and happiness I never thought I’d be the focus of!

      1. Well done for not letting your illness beat you. Too many ‘healthy’ people are forever finding excuses not to do something. You’ve insure me for the day so thank you and all the best.

  5. Do something that scares me?

    Since I adopted primal eating I’ve sort of developed this fear of eating bagels… does that count?

    1. Haha, me too! I had a nightmare last night that I ate a mountain of bread and ice cream…I woke up relieved!!

  6. I totally agree with walking in forests in the dark, no flashlight, though I would recommend waiting for a full moon. When I was a boy we did a 20 mile hike at night at scout camp every year. I have some great memories of those hikes. Anyway, it’s all about the mountains for me. Mountains and mountain rivers. Can’t get enough of it.

    1. I did something similar one night. My parents revoked my bail, told me, and I freaked out, so while my mom was on the phone describing what I was wearing to the local detachment I was filling a backpack with more clothes and some food and water. I had enough time to hug one of my cats outside the front door and rush across a field across the road from my house before two cruisers pulled in the driveway, went to the door, then hurried back to their cars, one of which had a searchlight on top that they were swiveling around. My backpack was black so I dropped behind it and lay in the dirt. For most of the rest of the night I was creeping through fields and stuff, while the cops just sat in their cars on the roads near my house with their headlights on – as if I would take the roads! – but it was scary wondering whether or not I was visible in the fields. My heart was practically fluttering and I had that jello feeling in my limbs. I looked in a mirror the next day and must have lost a couple pounds that night.

  7. Well this is something I’ll be referencing multiple times over the next decade!!

    It seems as if I’ll engage in all of these 20 recommendations while walking across all 50 states of America.

    I begin mid to late September…

  8. I really need to get back to experiencing nature. I’ve become to distant form it, and accepted it. I’d love to go back to the Rockies and just “be” again.

  9. I like to sit by the window when in a commercial airline because often there are perspectives on scenes I have never before seen. Once, while flying through the most incredible canyon of clouds I got really excited. As usual, the rest of the passengers refused to be the least bit interested. I can’t believe any of them had ever seen such and incredible sight before.

    I don’t know about walking through a forest at night without a light but I do recommend hugging a variety of trees. There is something wonderful about it, although I don’t know what it is. Just don’t hug one harboring a trailing poison-ivy vine.

    1. My neck is always sore after a plane flight from looking out the window. 🙂

  10. Oof. Watching young kids climb rocks like monkeys at the ocean edge is nightmarish for this mom but I know it was great for them in so many ways and make them *so* happy. I don’t know who was more euphoric when it was over – them or me. 😉

    1. I know what you’re saying. I found watching strangers’ kids didn’t bring out the same anxiety. Maternal instinct is quite a force!

  11. Surf. Its cheap, fun to learn, different every time… the list goes on. Mark knows whats up with the SUP.

    1. When we lived in Venice CA, I had a summer working for myself where I followed high tide all summer, bodysurfing (never got good with the board). Peak experience: sunset, decent waves backlit by the setting sun…then 3 dolphins (porpoise? never got clear on that) shooting through our wave just before we got it…just don’t get that in Chicago!

  12. An idea for an IE (and very primieval) experience: find a comfortable sit-spot outside at night, in a lawn chair under a tree for instance, be still, and just wait for the wildlife to show up. Around here we have opossum, raccoon, bobcat, grey fox, coyote, domestic cats, rabbits & other rodents, owls, skunks. Amazing what is going through the yard at night! And how you will be ignored if you don’t move around too much.

    1. I domesticated some “wild” kittens. Three my family took from a barn-like building when I was young, 7 or 8, and they were really young so they got imprinted on us. Another was an older kitten, which I entrapped mischievously. I was renting a room and a mother and its male kitten were living under the back deck. My landlord’s daughter did most of the work befriending him first and said he let her pet him once and my landlord bought cat food so we’d all been feeding them. As they got more used to us they’d come closer to us on the deck and once I dangled a string around for the kitten to chase. The mother gave me a look that I felt I could read, and it said something like this: “You’re taking away my baby and I both resent and appreciate you for it.” Maybe I imagined it. But more and more the mother would not be there while the kitten remained and he’d walk along the railing of the deck when I was sitting out there alone, hitting the bong. One time the wind was going the perfect speed and direction – a breeze basically, and the kitten was directly downwind of me on the railing while I sat in a chair. Carpe diem, I exhaled in his direction and he was briefly immersed in a cloud of smoke. He appeared pleased so I did it again. Then he jumped from the railing and came over to me and started climbing on me so after a bit of that I brought him in the house to explore, and after that he was a pet.

  13. Great post!

    We’re going camping this weekend and bringing the telescope to see the blue moon this friday! Our 4-year old is very excited as are we…

  14. I love your suggestions. 5 is one of my favourite things to do.

    I suggest geocaching – discover great new places near where you live and get away from things for a while. Great fun for kids too.

  15. My son is 3 1/2. I love to just stare at his beautiful face. He catches me quite often and laughs. He’ll say, “Mommy, what’s the matter?” I tell him “nothing is the matter.” He says, “you’re funny mommy.” In those moments, I feel like life cannot possibly get any better.

  16. @Animanarchy – Here is an excerpt from an eastern mystical book that I was reading earlier today.. Rhymes well with your experience

    “Have you ever said, “Hello, to a tree? You yourself would think that you are going out of your mind. Have you ever touched a tree with love, the same way you would touch your beloved? Have you ever hugged a tree? You are missing a whole world of sensitivity that surrounds you, that is available.

    Slowly, slowly, you will start feeling that when you say hello to a tree…of course, it cannot respond in language, but it will respond in some way. It may start swaying even though there may be no wind. When you touch it lovingly, just a little acquaintance is needed, and you can feel that on the other side there is not something insensitive, but something which is far more sensitive than people are. The tree will be sending its energy, its warmth to your hand.

    If you hug a tree, the world is going to think you are mad. But all the trees will know that there is still hope for man; there are still sensitive people. And hugging a tree, you will find more sensitiveness, more lovingness, than you can find even hugging your friend or your beloved, because your friend, or your beloved are full of tensions, anxieties, agonies. Trees are absolutely innocent; their consciousness is as pure as the purest sky, unclouded. We are not living in a dead world.

    Although it has not been discovered yet by science, it is predictable that even in rocks you will find a consciousness deep asleep. Nothing is dead anywhere; it is whole, alive, sensitive. We are unnecessarily confining ourselves to human beings. We should spread our hands in all directions – to the animals, the trees, the birds, the rocks, the oceans…. By this expansion of your experiences, your own consciousness will be evolving more and more. This universe is not a graveyard, it is full of rejoicings; you are just deaf. It is full of beauties, but you are blind. All the birds are living in a different dimension of consciousness; you can have a communication with them…”

    1. That’s beautiful. What’s the book title? I think I’d like to read that.

    2. oh my goodness…during my 3x week walk/sprint, there are three incredible trees I make a point to greet and at least lay my hands on [no hugging – residential area ;)]- two are tremendous old oaks, and the other (my favorite) is a gnarly, twisted ancient butternut tree. And, yes, there is a certain energy flow; I know I walk with a bit more pep after saying hello. This posting truly spoke to me – thank you.

    3. Wow this reminds me the episode of the Dinosaurs, when Sinclair switches with a tree

    4. Resurgent; J.P Farrell has the physics to describe the ‘alive’ rocks- or at least the means for everything to contain consciousness, albeit past experience locked in to it. It’s trippy but followable. He describes the Giza pyramids vibrations… oh man, where to start.
      He has the physics at any rate.

    5. Awesome.
      And that last sentence, due to the mention of birds, just reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to post for a while but kept forgetting.
      In a town I was recently living in I spent a lot of time hanging around in a plaza parking lot with a bunch of “friends” (I didn’t know them well but was accepted into the group because of a mutual friend). One of these people is a good guy but spazzed out a lot at various people or various things, often shouting on the edge of an angry hysteria, pretty much steaming mad.
      The one day I was sitting on the plaza curb watching one of his rants and it seemed so ridiculous to me I was having a difficult time holding back laughter – then a bunch of birds sitting around starting chirping and I was entirely sure – still mostly sure – that they were laughing at him, and that caused me to think: “Even the birds are laughing at him!” which brought me over the emotional threshold and made me double over, laughing in tears.

  17. I think intermittent euphoria is the reason Maurice Sendak has maintained such lasting popularity. Every time I read ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ to my son, I am careful to watch his eyes as I turn the page. I can only imagine what a scary, wonderful experience it is for him to see the pictures.

    1. +1

      my favorite book when i was a kid, and now my kid’s favorite book! I have an original 1963 edition!

  18. Spot on. Perfect reminder in the middle of a hectic time that we still need to be aware of those little IE moments around us that all too often go unnoticed.

    I’m in on the surfing!

  19. Great topic, Mark. I actually get to live on one of the great lakes. It is awesome! Great place to lose the clamoring of SELF and begin to be part of the universe.

    No urge to walk through the woods at night around here. Lots of logs and holes, skunks and coyotes and even cougars and black bears! Did i mention mosquitos? 🙂

    1. Death to mosquitoes! A huge one landed on me the other day. It was about three times bigger than a regular mosquito and a darker brown with darker stripes. If I remember right it also had white stripes on its legs.. can’t be sure because I quickly as possible brushed it away after examining it in shock momentarily.

  20. I went to a local reservoir with my family. We landed the boat in this random area and a friend of my brother found a small waterfall caused by late-season rains.

    It was kind of hard to get up to, and I knew it would be more difficult to get down, but I made the climb anyway. The last time I saw a waterfall was at Yosemite.

    On a whim, I stood under it and let the cool water flow over me. It was exhilarating! I could feel the energy and pulse of the water (it would flow more for a few seconds and then flow less).

    Such a simple thing, but I felt I had experienced something special.

  21. 3, 8, and 16 seem like the ones I do a lot. Great ideas, will have to try some of them especially the nature stuff!

  22. Hiking at night during winter in Alaska is pretty awesome. The snow reflects the moon fairly well, so it’s light enough that you don’t need headlamps.

    I always used to do this with my boyfriend when I lived on campus in Anchorage to avoid angry moose! Man… I miss those days.

    1. What a magical image! Reminds me of Michigan in the winter in my childhood. Thanks for sharing.

  23. I found joy this weekend when I kayaked for the first time…hooked for life.

  24. I seldom comment on any post, but this touched my heart. Why must we make things so difficult? Simple pleasures trump everything else we percieve to be important. Thank you for the reminder, and better yet, through the lens of a six year old!

  25. Several years ago, I took a 10-day wilderness skills course near the Shasta wilderness. We camped for these ten days and learned about primitive survival techniques.

    The morning of the sweat felt different from the other days. The sunrise was pink and the air had a closeness and heaviness to it, it made everything seem oddly quiet.

    As the day went on, it began to cloud up and, later, we would get intermittent thunder claps.

    By nightfall, the thunderstorm was going in full force. And we went and had the sweat anyway. We didn’t even use the pool to cool off, we would just go out and stand in the rain. Now I’m supposed to be afraid of lighting, but as I stood out there watching the lightning crack the sky through the trees overhead, it was clear to me that, on this night at least, she was a Kali type feminine force dancing in the sky. We know about the destructive aspects of lighting, but also it balances the electrical charge between earth and sky, and it puts nitrogen in the soil. Like Kali, lightning is both a creator and destroyer of worlds.

    1. Standing out there, I felt as though I was straddling the boundary between life and death. It was conceivable that a lightning bolt could come my way. The idea made me a little uncomfortable, but I wasn’t afraid.

      If it was going to happen that night this would be one of the better ways to die.

  26. Go Nordic Skiing on a cold winter night with headlamps on, full moon, snow falling.

    1. I used to occasionally run through a forest I knew well (had a bit of a path developing) in the dark with a headlamp. It was thrilling and surreal. The light illuminating branches and twigs one moment then others at different distances the next as the elevation it shone from changed made everything look a little choppy. It almost seemed that what was illuminated was all that existed, or that what existed beyond the “light radius” was a mysterious ether that could generate anything. I guess it would be what you make of it, but to me it seemed sort of like a scary movie or video game (reminded me particularly of some of the darker levels in Painkiller).

  27. Watching children fly kites, can be euphoric. Their happiness is infections even if you haven’t flown a kite in 20 years.

  28. I think the last purely nature euphoria I experienced was watching the aurora borealis last winter (aka. Northern Lights). I live in Anchorage and the lights that night were simply amazing. I had friends say they could see them in town, white, purple, green, and some red. But I was up on one of the mountains and it was simply one of the most marvelous things I’ve EVER experienced. It was like looking at a wind chime that was made out of lights, the way they danced and moved across the sky. There were moments when I thought I could reach out and touch them. Words don’t do it justice, and neither do pictures. I still get shadows of the euphoria I felt that night whenever I think about it.

    I also had a personal euphoric experience a couple weeks ago on a run. I had been training for a 5k and that day when my run was finished it timed perfectly with a place on the trail where the trees opened up and I had a stellar view of the ocean and the sun reflecting off the water. That view mixed with my feeling of accomplishment created such joy for me that I started tearing up, and I had to really smile at people passing by me so they wouldn’t think something was wrong. In the end I walked down to a small beach area to just sit and take it all in. It was a very cathartic experience and not one I’ll ever forget.

  29. “Invest in experiences” … I like this one alot. Simply stated yet full of endless possibilities and potential memories to cherish.

    Hiking anyone?

    1. I wonder, is that one a subliminal suggestion to go to Primalcon? 😯

  30. This might be too “simple” (though I think that’s the point, ha!) but my latest IE moment was choosing to swim in the Brazos River in the pouring rain, with lightning crackling overhead. Watching the raindrops hitting the surface of the water and making bubbles with each hit was amazing. I know I laughed aloud more times than I can count.

  31. Loved this post. There is so much round about us and we just don’t always take the time too see and experience it. I’ve started making better use of my lunchtimes in the city centre. All our museums are free and just this week I’ve marvelled at the beauty of a Salvador Dali painting, been awestruck at the size and history of a locomotive and enjoyed a organ recital.

  32. I’m surprised the euphoria experienced when making a love connection was not addressed here.

  33. I would second music, but suggest that people look a bit further afield and experiment with music they might not necessarily have heard before. I find a lot of non-English recording artists tend to write songs that are more euphoric, more beautiful, more sonically meaningful than a lot of Western English-language music these days.

    Also, dancing is a pretty good way to let everything float away.

    1. Go to a Zumba class and you will have an out of world experience 🙂

  34. Swimming I’m the ocean is one of the few ways I can naturally induce euphoria. Love is the other. Just hugging someone I have that kind of connection with will do it for me. Actually, just thinking about them will. But like mark said, our minds and hearts have to be open; the connection must be allowed to develop and build.

  35. Barefoot (or minimal sandal) run or walk in snow or cold rain. It’s exhilarating to me to know I can do that and survive.

    1. A twist on an old cliché that came to me in the woods today, sorry if it’s not original – Before you insult someone who’s primal, walk a mile barefoot (or in their Vibrams/moccasins/etc. I’ve been wearing boot-slippers as they were free.. they were a bit embarrassing at first but removing the pom pom things and adding half a shoelace to each made a difference.)

  36. Raking a pile of leaves (since fall is on its way) and then jumping in.

    Taking a nap in the sun.

    Singing and dancing around the house.

    1. Raking/sweeping/mopping etc. is a great cool down after an arm workout, and can sometimes even be one.
      No wonder when my occupation was janitor I looked like a gorilla.

  37. #18 “Borrow a telescope or visit an area planetarium for their late night star gazing program.”

    This Friday is a rare blue moon folks! There won’t be another for 3 more years, so get out there and experience it!

  38. Sometimes I like to go into my back yard at night, down a little bit away from the house, about 20 meters will do, and just look at my little ranch house, with the lights glowing from inside. And then look up at the stars. Then at my little house. “I own that!” and, “I’m part of all this!”

    1. I do that with my campsites / makeshift shelters/ lurking grounds.. then I often think, “Damn, didn’t realize people can probably see me”.
      It’s considered uncouth to act like an animal.
      Once even doing the monkey bars forwards then backwards as fast as I could got me laughed at by some girls.

  39. Caving, yes! But if you’re not a caver, contact the National Speleological Society and find a friend who knows caving, so you and the cave finish the adventure unscathed.

  40. I have one more to add to the list: Journaling. It’s a great way to destress. It often invokes in me a moment of clarity that gives me more energy to tackle the day.

  41. Great article! I’ve experienced euphoria yesterday, when I was walking to the grocery store for the first time in a month. Having been very ill from a deep vein thrombosis in my pelvis, I wasn’t able to move around the last couple of weeks. Now I’m starting to walk again, though heavily sedated, and I feel a renewed thankfulness for my body and it’s ability to move. Looking forward to dancing again, which brings me to my own addition to this list: dance like nobody is looking, enjoy the feeling of freedom and enjoy your body – because being healthy and able to do so is really something to be grateful for!

    1. Yes!
      Spent like two hours once picking mushrooms in a cow field. Ate them all. Nothing.
      But I’ve gleaned a few green plants and their product here and there.

  42. Re. #14: Last weekend my husband and I stayed overnight at a lighthouse on a tiny island off the coast of Maine. During the day, we explored the island, watched seals and eagles, and foraged for mushrooms. My euphoric moment was sitting outside at midnight with the Milky Way in full view, hearing the horn sound, and watching the light slowly circle around. It was stunningly beautiful, and made me think of the connection between the sailors out at sea and the lighthouse keepers guiding them safely back to shore.

    This weekend is a surfing lesson and now I’m thinking a hike under Friday’s full moon is in order. Thanks, Mark.

  43. I just got back from a 3 day trip to Canada. My friend and I wanted to do a road trip without necessarily picking a direction to go to, so we just headed north, and 11 hrs later ended up in beautiful Canada with its million lakes and rivers, bearth-taking landscapes, and all the wonders of nature.
    Instead of getting a hotel or motel, we just camped at different camp-sites.

    It was so relaxing. Things like that make you appreciate life and remember that there’s so much more to it than your job and daily grind that tends to suck you in.

  44. After living in Manhattan for 10 years, I moved to an old hunting cabin in the PA woods for then next 10. I learned something unexpected from that. Ever since then my rule for a home has been that I can hike out the door. I understand that being in or near town is prized by many and commuting sucks, but not having to drive to go hiking makes it easy to do regularly. I mostly try to find places on the sides of mountains so there are elevation changes.

    At one point I lived 20 min from Albuquerque, but also had a national forest bordering the development I was renting in. Nothing like climbing from 7200 ft to 9800 ft and back to get one’s morning started right. And on a day off I might stop and sit against a ponderosa pine and watch the sky for a while, meditating in the woods is very fulfilling.

    The bears and other wildlife encountered added a sense of how random wonder and delight can be, how it can be there waiting or sometime sneak up on us at a moment when we need to freed from the stuff in our heads. This alone is worth the price of novel experience. Stop expecting and planning and just go.

    1. That’s awesome. That’s what I have done, make my life changes in major fashion every decade or so. I was a commuter monkey in Wash DC suburbs in 1986 when I swore off of commuting and suburbs forever, vowed to live either city or country. Moved to San Francisco for 14 years, loved it but forced myself to move on to a rural property in Shasta county and telecommuted from there for 11 years. Living with the dogs and horses, it’s been great. I’m getting restless again though…

  45. Today with friends and their kids, we took a ferry boat to Port Cor island off the south coast of France. The bluest water I have ever seen. The island is a nature preserve… just stunningly gorgeous. With kids in tow, we walked a rough rocky trail for forty five minutes… picnic gear in hands… to the secluded beach. The sites and the snorkeling were amazing. And the kids had a blast.
    The most memorable part for me was the hike to and fro. I had a darling little 3 year old on my shoulder the whole way. She is a special child and we really bonded. She had so much fun being on my shoulders.

  46. I participated in The Dirty Dash this last weekend, and laughed and shrieked my way through the five mile obstacle course. I had mud up to my chin by the time I crossed the finish line. It was the most fun I’ve had in years. I can hardly wait to do it again. How do we adults forget how much fun it is to get muddy and lose ourselves in play?

  47. Euphoric is no problem for me, it’s something I’ve always done. But I had gotten a little out of shape so going primal now at age 58, best shape I’ve been in since my thirties! My most euphoric times were always windsurfing off the Santa Cruz coast, now I am back and learning kiteboarding.

    The number one euphoric midnight walk for me was:

    Up to Delicate Arch under a full moon, it’s that famous arch on the Utah license plate.

    We were lucky to do this when in Moab a few years back. We were staying in town when I had the idea to do it, I had been up before in the day and it was a great little hike though there were many people there. I thought I had read that it was popular to do at full moon but when we got to the parking lot there wasn’t a soul there, probably it was a day or so off the actual full moon. The moon was high and bright enough to read a newspaper up there on the sandstone slickrock. It’s a steep but only mildly strenuous walking climb and nice and cool at night. Just fantastic. Eerie and incredible view from the top and you could spend the night if you like.

    Now here’s something else to do with a Utah arch, this is an awesome bit of euphoria here, hope you enjoy it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B36Lr0Unp4&feature=BFa&list=PL55F8711DC8CFEA13

  48. Accidental Euphoria? Last night we went hunting, got stuck in a puddle in a mountain road and had to walk all the way back to our home. It was a warm clear night with a full moon. Absolute happiness, and I cherish the time it allowed me with my father.

  49. Wow- thank you for this! Sharing this with my friends! My fiance plays live music 3-5 times a week and live music is definitely an IE experience!!!

  50. Natural childbirth for me. It was simultaneously the most horrible and most amazing experience of my life. I literally thought I was going to die for the 2-3 hours of my “transition.” I didn’t even know that level of pain was possible. To come out on the other side, though, and know that I survived, and had experienced what women have been experiencing for millennia, was truly a euphoric feeling. Plus I had a healthy, beautiful baby to show for it! Truly indescribable.

  51. Well, I did a couple of these a couple days ago… I went mountain biking, by myself, in a new location, just setting out to explore and enjoy being on a bike again (I’ve been out of commission due to health for over a year).

    Not 20 minutes into the bush, I encountered a cougar. It was less than 70 feet away in a tree. I noticed it because I had to dismount to get my bike over a too-tall obstacle and heard a strange rustling.

    I shouted and clapped my hands, then backed over 100′ down the trail, ready to hoist my bike over my head if the cougar came any closer before getting back on my bike and riding (slowly) away.

    WOW I felt alive when I got back to my truck 🙂

  52. Intermittent euphoria. What a great new term to decribe Burning Man. 😉 Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need illicit substances to see things from a new perspective out there. One of the most relaxing things ever is to go climb an art structure at dusk and watch the lights moving around the desert.

  53. Abraham Maslow called them “Peak Experiences”, everyone can have them and they give us a sense of connectedness to ourselves, each other and nature. I wrote a term paper on them last year. They are also anxiety reducing (likely lower cortisol levels), the memory can have an impact that lasts a lifetime and the great thing is you can train/teach yourself to have more!

  54. I totally agree that IE is essential to a fully-lived life. In addition to all the wonderful physical experiences that have gotten me to that place, I have to say the most reliable one is my attendance at a regular 12-step meeting (mine is Al-anon). For one hour a week I experience joy and wonder and euphoria that’s equivalent to a rafting trip down a pristine wild river. Boredom and restlessness, too, but you can also have that during a week of 10,000+ feet hikes (just did that).

  55. Some great ideas here. I guess I’m lucky in that I work outdoors and experience those magic moments nearly everyday. Yesterday it was the euphoria of walking through an apple orchard in full blossom and listening to the intense hum of thousands of bees. Other days it can be watching the sea turn from a tropical aqua to an intense threatening deep blue or watching a rainstorm sweep up the mountain range and running for shelter as it hits. Today it has been thunder and watching spring storms roll down the valley. These are the wonderful experiences I place above any material object and try to stay open to experiencing every day.

  56. One thing not mentioned on here would be to do something directly spiritual/religious (though every IE experience is spiritual in some way). I know religion these days is a lot more organized than Grok’s would have been, but not every form or expression of it out there is scary. If you find the right place religion can be a regularly elevating experience. (What Mark called euphoria is also called elevation in psychology.) We can’t forget how primal belief in something supernatural is!

  57. I meditate everyday and find that a by product of this is increased states of euphoria. Also, when you meditate you realise that even the simplest of life’s actions can be an incredible experience. Having a present and complete experience of anything is a sublime experience – I’ve sat at home having breakfast some days after meditating and have just been blown away by the richness of my experience and rapt up by a wonder for life – just in virtue of the fact that I’m totally “there”.
    As you might imagine, it can make looking at beautiful landscapes and sunsets all the more awesome too!