The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact


What is the book “The Power of Moments” about?

There are defining moments in our lives, the moments that we’ll always remember. They might seem random: for one person a defining moment could be the first time they’ve met their loved one, for another it could be the time they’ve met a good mentor who helps to develop their talent.

Often it could be a sudden loss when we gain new strength through the process of coping with it. It seems that those kinds of moments are sent to us by fate or providence regardless of our desire, and we have no power over them. But is it so?

Sometimes those moments are described as a good fortune. Its impact on our life can be huge, but we shouldn’t wait until it’ll appear naturally. The authors of the book explore how we can learn to create such moments.

First, the reader will discover the defining moments and their common features. Then, he will learn to create those moments himself in order to enrich his life, to open new opportunities in it, and, at the same time, to change the other people’s lives for the better, be it the lives of your loved ones, employees, students or patients.

It’s not possible for us to remember every single thing from our past; our memory holds only specific moments. It’s true that your brightest moments will be with you much longer than any other ones: for example, a firework show would be way more memorable than your average chemistry lesson. If you’re considering events from your daily experience, events that aren’t too bright or too boring, then it’s possible that you might remember the peak moment of the said event and its ending. The authors provide the psychological background as an example.

The subjects were offered to take their family to Disneyland and to evaluate their impressions on a scale from 1 to 10. They were contacted 6 times throughout the day. At 9 a.m. the family saw grazing cows from their hotel room window (the score was 6), at 10 a.m. they were riding horses (the score was 5), at 11 a.m. they’ve taken a trip on a roller coaster (10), at noon they’ve had a good lunch (7), at 1 p.m. they’ve stood for 45 minutes in a queue (3), at 2 p.m. they’ve bought funny hats for their children (8). If we’ll average those estimates, we’d get 6.5. But if we’d ask the same family in a couple of weeks what they remember most fondly, they would answer that it was them buying hats and riding on a roller coaster, which in a general estimate would equal to 9 and not 6.

People evaluate the experience based on two main points: the best or the worst moment, or peak; and the end of this experience. This is called the peak rule. The roller coaster is the brightest and most pleasant moment, and buying hats is the end of the trip.

When we’re evaluating our experience, we aren’t averaging our feelings; we remember peaks, valleys, and transitions. This is well known to representatives of the service sector, who studied the psychology of their clients.

The authors cite «The Magic Castle» hotel, which is in the top-3 hotels of Los Angeles (the rating was compiled from 100 hotels). It came past «Four Seasons» and «The Ritz-Carlton». More than 90% of the guests rated it as excellent and very good. Meanwhile, it looks completely unattractive. The pool is small, the rooms are old, and the hotel itself was once a residential complex in the 1950s. What’s with the high ratings?

Near the pool, you notice a cherry-red phone. If you’ll pick it up, you’ll hear a voice saying: “Popsicle Hotline”. You make an order, and a few minutes later a waiter wearing white gloves brings free ice cream on a silver tray. Also, there are free snacks, and three times a week magicians give free performances during breakfasts. Guests’ clothes are being washed for free and are returned back in the same day in a fancy package with a ribbon and a branch of lavender. The phone, lavender, Popsicle Hotline – all those things are the defining moments for guests on a vacation. They’re the reasons you may forgive a small swimming pool and the building being old, and you may gladly tell your friends that there’s a phone near the pool.

Defining moments are created from four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. Elevation raises us above the boring everyday life; we experience it when, for example, we see a waiter wearing white gloves bringing free ice cream on a silver tray for us. Elevation always contains something extraordinary in it.

Insight makes us see things differently; it changes our perception of the world in a few seconds. Pride is something we experience in our defining moments when we show our best qualities, for example, courage. We feel a sense of communication (with other people) when we participate in group activities, such as weddings, baptism, sports events or proms.

Defining moments can be positive or negative – both of them have their own peaks. Dan and Chip Heath consider that we must learn how to properly manage them, however, they may be.

Summary and Ideas of “The Power of Moments”

Idea №1. You can create a defining moment out of every new event in your life.

Idea №2. A defining moment separates stages of a person’s life.

Idea №3. To ease the pain, you should fill the potholes that were left by negative defining moments.

Idea №4. To build a peak, you need to create a positive moment with the elements of elevation, though it may be difficult.

Idea №5. The moments of insight are needed in order to abandon the past experience and to transition into a new stage of life.

Idea №6. The moments of pride require initial preparation.

Idea №7. The defining moments help build our connection with each other.

Idea №8. When we understand the importance of a defining moment, then we can find opportunities to create it.

Review “The Power of Moments”

In their book, Dan and Chip Heath show many examples of how to create defining moments and to fill the negative «potholes». Their book would not only be useful to those who run a business but to anyone who wants to break his boundaries, to improve their lives and lives of the people around them. Heath Brothers demonstrate in their book that to do this, you don’t need to resort to something excessive. A small gesture, a gift, a ritual or a simple surprise would be enough to produce pleasant emotions.

Not all of those tips can be applied in our reality, for example, now you can only dream about patients in hospitals being presented with flowers. It’s not necessary to start with something huge; it’s enough to start with yourself challenging the daily routine. Then, by bringing positive changes into your own life, you may start influencing others.

Pros and Cons:

  • Valuable and inspiring ideas; interesting examples; fascinating narrative.
  • Periodically ideas repetition

About Authors Chip Heal and Dan Heath

Authors of the book  The Power of MomentsChip Heath is an American bestselling author and speaker. He and his brother Dan Heath have co-authored three bestselling books, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2007), Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (2010), and Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (2013).

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