Peak experience, the things we love most, and life's great passions: A worldwide, cross cultural Ph.D study, documentary and book.
THE PEAK MOMENTS OF YOUR LIFE. YOUR GREATEST PASSIONS. AND WHAT YOU LOVE MOST.
In 2011 and 2012 Google’s most frequently asked question was, “What is love?” The Godfather of Positive Psychology and our mentor, Prof. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi recently told us:
In our times, the meaning of " love" has shrunk to mean the affection between men and women, and -- hopefully -- between parents and children. And not much else. But that is not enough....We forget that there is so much to love in this world. (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 2013. Personal Communication).
We began to wonder, what do people around the world love? And why? How would they describe the peak experiences in their lives? Are these experiences about loving other people, pursuing their passions, or being in flow (what athletes and artists call "being in the zone")? In 2013 we will set out to ask these questions in an epic world research trip:
Six continents, six months, and 200 stories of optimum human experience. What lies North of Normal?
Our goal is to interview people from the cafes of New Orleans to the Outback of Australia, from the markets in Bangkok to the wild of Southern Africa, from Machu Picchu to the south of France. We want to know what "peak experience", "love" and pursuit of "passion" means to different people around the globe. So much of what we know about optimum experience is derived from Western college samples and online surveys. We think there are extraordinarily interesting voices beyond these categories that deserve our attention.
Using the best of our training we will gather data, photographs, and video footage on our travels. From these we will produce:
(a) North of Normal, the Documentary including the most poignant interviews and moments from the research trip.
(b) North of Normal, a Pictorial Journey, a glossy hardcover book containing the best photographs and quotes from the trip.
(c) North of Normal, the Book containing an in-depth analysis and coverage of the findings of our cross-cultural research.
Throughout our journey we will build relationships with local communities by giving public and private workshops on Positive Psychology and how to live an enriched life. We will deliver six workshops free of charge on our travels, focusing on men, women and children who would not ordinarily have access to these events. Our intention is to reach and learn from people close to home as well as abroad, bringing our research into the “real world”.
WHO WE ARE
As Positive Psychology Ph.D students we focus on what is North of Normal: the best of human potential, experience, happiness and love – and how to amplify these. We are Angela Mouton – a former environmental lawyer born and raised on the plains of South Africa via Aotearoa New Zealand and London – and Monica Montijo, a former Harvard softball champion, high school teacher and coach from the desert of Arizona. Today we are Ph.D students at Claremont Graduate University in California, studying with the godfather of Positive Psychology and optimal experience, Prof. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It was in this living philosopher’s class back in 2010 that we met and started an extraordinary journey together, exploring, researching and teaching the psychology of North of Normal.
We believe that our cross cultural partnership, our academic credentials, and our enthusiasm for adventure and innovation put us in a unique position to take peak experience research to the next level. We know how to talk to non-academic audiences. We believe it is time to bring love and peak experience research out of the ivory tower and place it in the hands of (extra)ordinary human beings everywhere.
HOW CLOSE ARE WE TO LAUNCHING?
We are ready! With your help we will start the first day of the trip on June 1st 2013. Background research is complete. Our professors are on board. The itinerary is set. The workshops are designed. Friends around the world are primed to receive us on distant shores. And we have documentary and publishing expertise lined up to help us produce the film and books when we return in December 2013. All we need is our minimum funding target to make it a reality.
WHAT WILL THE FUNDS BE USED FOR?
Your support will allow us to finalize video and photography equipment, cover some travel expenses, and produce the North of Normal creative products.
WHAT REWARDS ARE WE OFFERING?
We are offering some fabulous rewards for support from $1 onwards, including an opportunity to star in the North of Normal documentary, a copy of the film, VIP reception at the North of Normal premier, invitations to a North of Normal workshop and webinar, and signed copies of the North of Normal book. The stories captured because of your support will inspire and inform. We would love to have you on board!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
A global trip is full of surprises. But this is not our first rodeo. Travel delays, unfortunate weather and language barriers - bring them on! We have scheduled a month per continent with an average goal of four countries visited per continent. We are confident that this time frame gives us enough of a buffer to sort out any travel obstacles that might come up. And honestly, unexpected twists and turns often turn out to be strokes of good luck.
$15,000 is the minimum amount we need to collect the data and footage, and produce North of Normal, the documentary and book. We are investing an additional $20,000 of our own funds into the project. All funding will be used to cover photographic and video equipment, some post production costs and a small proportion of travel expenses.
North of Normal is our passion and professional calling. We are skilled qualitative researchers and will invest our time and expertise to edit and produce the film when we return. We have the support of experienced documentary makers such Roko Belic, Matt Walker, and Jared Chapman who have offered to help with logistics, resources and advice. We also have New York Times Best Selling authors as backers and they have extended their publishing contacts to us.
Yes and no. Our interest is in optimum human experience. For some people the best moments in life come from loving other people. For some peak experience happens in pursuing their passions. And for others the optimum is being in flow - what athletes call "being in the zone", and what artists describe as "being in the moment". Each of us is unique in what lights us up. We hope to highlight the unique stories of diverse people around the world describing what for them is optimum experience.