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The power of shared experiences

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When we look back on our lives, the things we remember the most are the experiences we shared with others, some good, some bad, but all of them have made us who we are. At Optimist Performance, we are firm believers in the power of shared experiences, which is why we have made it our mission to use them as a catalyst to create long-lasting change. 

However, the power of shared experiences is not only something we believe in; we also have science backing us up. 

The benefits of shared experiences

When talking about experiences, we are not only referring to the extraordinary ones (like going to the North Pole or climbing Kilimanjaro). Yes, extraordinary adventures are amazing, but according to science, the crucial part is not the experience itself but who you share it with. 

Optimist Performance founder, Ollie Phillips, is a fantastic illustration of this. When we asked him which adventure was his favourite one, his answer was, “Cycling across America, it wasn’t the most extraordinary one, but it’s the one I remember the most because I went with my wife, Lucy.”

Positive shared experiences enhance our feelings of belonging, connectedness and sense of meaning. Additionally, it boosts our self-esteem and decreases feelings of depression, anxiety and isolation. 

Furthermore, we shouldn’t focus on shared experiences only with people we know and with whom we have things in common. Spending time with younger people, for example, can challenge our thinking and foster innovation while also enhancing our sense of purpose if we feel like we are teaching or helping them.

We don’t even really need to share these experiences with someone we know and already like. According to a recent study from Psychological Science, sharing experiences, even with complete strangers, makes us rate those experiences as more meaningful.

In addition to being good for our mental and emotional health, shared experiences also foster empathy and are linked to good physical and cognitive health.

Furthermore, it’s not only sharing these experiences that have a positive impact on us. Even talking about them with others benefits our well-being and life satisfaction, according to studies

How can we maxmise the power of shared experiences?

silhouette of a group of people

Given that loneliness has been identified as one of the largest issues facing society today and that we are spending more time alone than ever (working from home for young people, for example, can be quite lonely). We could all benefit from shared experiences. 

So, we have created a list of ideas on how to maximise the power of experiences:

Leverage your time. Instead of trying to find time that you probably don’t have, we can make our time “multitask”. Take this company as an example; they have their Wednesday meetings while walking in the park. Using the time we spend on everyday activities and turning them into experiences can be a terrific way to make your time multitask. Furthermore, you don’t really need to be in the same room. Consider making a phone call to a co-worker over lunch (research shows that sharing a meal helps us build social connections and communities) to catch up on your weekend or turn a solo activity into a group activity. For instance, our team likes to get together on Zoom for “brainstorming sessions”. During these, we just talk about ideas, points of view, etc. It helps our creativity, but it’s also a bonding moment when we are not alone.

Mix things up. The holiday period can be a great time to spend time with people you normally wouldn’t. If the person you normally work closely with is on leave, ask someone else to collaborate with you or just ask for their opinions over a face-to-face or virtual coffee. You can also use your onboarding to mix things up. If you are a senior in your company, make some time to help young/new people to get situated, you never know what you can learn from them. 

Share, share, share. If you work from home and don’t see much of your co-workers, use your daily or weekly meetings to share your experiences, what you’ve done on the weekend or what you did while on holiday. Most of us can relate to other people’s stories, and it can help us discover more about other people. We always use the first 15 minutes of our morning meetings to talk about our weekends, and yes, maybe we are taking 15 minutes that we could be working, but because of that time, we feel more connected to one another. 

Change the environment. Create a memorable experience for your team by getting them out of their daily routine. Whether you work in the office or at home, it’s difficult to put day-to-day work aside to discuss other things that are maybe just as important. By changing the environment, you can give people the time and space needed to reflect on different aspects of their work and personal lives. Being together outside of routine tasks also fosters a sense of belonging and connection.

At Optimist Performance, we love creating unforgettable memories that have an impact on people. If you need assistance organising your next team event, get in touch with us.

  • This article originally appeared here.
  • Listen to our podcast with Ollie here.

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