The ultimate in uplifting moments is the peak experience: the moment of ecstasy, spiritual fulfillment, and bliss.
From the responses, Maslow put together a composite syndrome of the peak experience:
1. The experience or object is seen as a whole, detached from possible usefulness, expedience, and purpose.
2. The experience is fully attended to, given "total attention."
3. The experience seems ego-transcending, self-forgetful, and egoless.
4. The experience is felt as self-validating and self-justifying, carrying its own intrinsic value.
5. The experience is accompanied by a characteristic disorientation in time and space (e.g. the creative artist oblivious to surroundings, lovers to whom a day seems like a year or a second).
6. Particularly in musical or religious experiences, the world is seen as a unity, a single rich live entity, or a part is perceived as if it were for the moment all of the world (Maslow, 1968).
These moments were of pure, positive happiness when all doubts, all fears, all inhibitions, all tensions, all weaknesses were left behind.
Peak experiences are often accompanied by a peculiar and distinctive feeling of "oneness with the universe." The feeling of separateness, distance, or alienation from the world disappears.
During a peak experience, people feel loving and accepting of all creation. Maslow told of a subject who said that during a peak experience "I felt like a member of a family, not like an orphan."
Maslow agreed with William James that mystical experiences were often associated with religion. Indeed, as Biblical scholar Marcus Borg pointed out, every religion starts with a mystical experience.
To Maslow, religion was not a required part of the definition. By collecting examples, he determined that peak experiences could also occur in ordinary life. He wrote:
They came from the great moments of love and sex, from the great esthetic moments (particularly of music), from the bursts of creativeness and the creative furor (the great inspiration), from great moments of insight and of discovery, from women giving natural birth to babies–or just from loving them, from moments of fusion with nature (in a forest, on a seashore, mountains, etc.), from certain athletic experiences, e.g. skin-diving, from dancing, etc.
Can you bring about these experiences at will? No! Or almost entirely no! In general we are "Surprised by Joy," to use the title of C. S. Lewis's book on just this question. Peaks come unexpectedly, suddenly they happen to us. You can't count on them. And hunting them is a little like hunting happiness. It's best not done directly. It comes as a by-product...for instance, of doing a fine job at a worthy task with which you identify (Maslow, 1962)C