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In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge described sailors on a sailing ship, stuck dead calm in the middle of the ocean without any wind:

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

It’s a funny thing, but life can feel that way sometimes. You get up, go to bed, then get up and do it again. Just repetition. It can feel like nothing is happening and you’re going nowhere. No positive momentum.

Ralph Waldo Emerson had an interesting thought on getting the momentum back in our lives:

“We’re all entitled to be valued by our best moments. Let your best moments break through the clouds of routine and shine every day, for these moments are momentous and they provide the momentum to keep your life moving ahead.”

I think Emerson understood that we sometimes de-value ourselves by linking ourselves to our worst moments—our failures, wounds or disappointments.

Those moments may have something to teach us. But they don’t determine our value. And they sure don’t help us build momentum.

Besides, even Olympic champions are remembered primarily for their best moments, so why shouldn’t we view ourselves the same way?

Of course, our best moments aren’t usually rewarded by applause and a medal. In fact, they may be quiet moments…like the moment when you took a tough problem or challenge head on. Or when you defused a tense situation with humor. Or when you faced a difficult situation with honesty and humanity.

But even if you don’t get a medal, there’s something more important that you can get by focusing on your best moments and letting them shine. You get momentum—that sense of a life moving joyfully forward.