THE COUNSELOR'S CORNER: Peak experiences in our lives

By Fred Cavaiani

This past Sunday, we celebrated our granddaughter Gabriela's First Communion. She has one older sister and two younger sisters. It was a joyful event. Our family does sacred events in a big way. My daughter and her husband rented a banquet hall for brunch after this grand occasion. At one table were friends that my wife and I have known for over forty five years. At another table were friends of my daughter and her husband who were young with young children. And at another table were two friends of ours who are World War II veterans, both 91 years old and their spouses. One had been in the navy and the other had been in the army. These two veterans from the "Greatest Generation" sat and reminisced and had a glorious time. Watching the pride of my daughter and son-in-law watching their beautiful daughter so reverently receive her First Communion touched all of our hearts and lifted us up to higher plane. Talking with our treasured friends and the energizing and uplifting friends of my daughter and her husband made me realize what a peak experience in life truly means.

Peak experiences happen when we have a momentary experience of something that seems way beyond us. It is like a profound connection with someone else. It can be watching innocent children jump and scream with joy. It can be watching two WWII veterans smiling and sharing memories. It is watching young mothers and fathers with their children and realizing the love and sacrifice it takes to raise children and the joy that children bring. It is talking with old friends and reminiscing about all the good times we have had together. It is discovering new friends with whom you can share your heart and soul and discover that they are on the same spiritual journey that you have been traveling.

This past Sunday was a peak experience of life for me. However as I get older I am more convinced that every day of our lives should contain peak experiences. I just need to pay more attention to these experiences when they are happening right before me. Listening carefully to someone tell me about their life is a profound peak experience. Affirming someone else and looking for the goodness inside of that person is another peak experience. Letting go of resentments towards others or those internal condemnations and judgments of others is another peak experience because I then experience a sense of freedom and a deeper realization that there is goodness in everyone and I do not have to hang on to negative thinking.

Freedom to be kind is a peak experience. Spending time in prayer and meditation is a profound peak experience of life. Realizing that all of religion needs to be affirming and positive and that judgments and condemnations of other people are not religion but a caricature of religion: this becomes another peak experience.

The realization that everyone has wisdom to share is another peak experience. Watching a sunset or a sunrise takes me out of myself and into another realm. Sitting on the shores of the sea or lake is a peak experience. Listening carefully to my spouse and to my children is a peak experience.

You know, the truth is becoming clear as I write this. Every moment of life can be a peak experience of life. The earth, the universe, everything I see and experience and every human being I see and encounter is filled with the energy of God. This is a positive, loving energy. It is called Love. I see this Love everywhere. I see misery when Love is absent but misery can quickly be eradicated when Love becomes present. Maybe the purpose of all philosophy and all psychology and all religions is to show us how to have peak experiences in this life and to realize that there will be an eternal peak experience for all of us in the next life. Our only task in this life is to surrender to the peak experiences that keep happening to each of us every moment of our life. This takes a decision to be open- hearted, open- minded, loving and affirming to all. Anything less than this will stifle peak experiences. We all stifle peak experiences each day in our life. It is part of the human situations and human limitations we all have. Yet at the same time we can also realize that it takes but a momentary glance and a momentary decision to focus on what is good and loving and kind which is always all around us. We then turn again to having a peak experience of life. Keep turning toward this. You will be surprised how your life changes for the better.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychotherapist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan he is also on staff at Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington, MI. His column in the Legal News runs every other week. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Wed, Apr 27, 2016


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