Every few years I pause to ask myself, “What are the best five moments of my life?”

I love this question. It’s nice to revisit the bright spots, especially when there’s so much darkness in the world. The answers tend to be illuminating too. You might expect that the big moments are also the ones that make life worth living. But often, they’re not. At least not for me.

When I reflect on my favorite moments, I don’t get caught up in the professional milestones I worked on for years or the status symbols I coveted.

Instead, I notice the quieter moments. The time my brother and I were able to control the rain (don’t ask) or when he surprised me with tickets to see Borat. I think about a glass of champagne with M* on a perfect, late summer evening in grad school. Or the weekend in the Shenandoah mountains with my college friends. The time Cranium got way too out of hand with my parents. Or the night we stole (and then returned) the canoe and crashed a party on the other side of the lake. Stuff like that.

It strikes me that life’s relentless speed, stress, and ennui risks washing these experiences away, unnoticed and forgotten until I pause to pay attention. When you have a moment, it’s worth slowing down to ask yourself, “What were the five best moments of my life?” Spend some time with your journal searching for and revisiting them. I like to write them out in my journal. You might also ask, “Am I living my life in a way that creates the opportunity for more moments like these? If not, what are the small things I can do to make them more common?”

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