Csíkszentmihályi: Flow (Have you ever felt it?)

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“In fact, one purpose of this book is to explore ways in which even routine details can be transformed into personally mean­ingful games that provide optimal experiences. Mowing the lawn or waiting in a dentist’s office can become enjoyable provided one restruc­tures the activity by providing goals, rules, and the other elements of
enjoyment […]” (quotation from the book)

I often come to realize that I’m quite detached from everyday happenings and information that people pick up around me.
I don’t know whom did Donald Trump meet this week, how does Kim Basinger look like (if I say she’s hot that’s enough to keep the conversation going) and I don’t know whether Adidas or Puma is more expensive. Or whether Puma still exists.
I’m a bit like the 18 year old son of Captain Fantastic who can recite the Declaration of Independence but have no idea how to have a conversation with a girl he meets.

No wonder that many of my good friends have known about Csíkszentmihályi’s Flow theory way before I did. But none of them have ever read the book that I’ve just finished.

This is my second non-fiction, self-development book I’ve read (after the 4 hour workweek). I plan to read at least 100 such books before switching to another non-fiction direction. If I ever do that.

All my life I’ve had a hunch. That happiness (and self development) is NOT a first world privilege. That self development is NOT (only/mainly) about fitness, body building, getting rich, founding a company, etc. It’s mainly about your inner perception and something that happens inside your mind (although fitness and eating avocado can help). Csikszentmihalyi agrees in his book. It’s been enough to move me to the state of flow for a while…

Other things I’ve learned are that
I shouldn’t look down on cleaners, factory hands and others doing shitty jobs: other than they are useful and I take these services every day (I’ve known this before) these  repetitive can give flow (happiness) to people who are different than I am. Just like the case of Rico Medellin who does the same, 43 second job 600 times a day for 5 years and still enjoys it. […] “he approaches his task in the same way an Olympic
athlete approaches his event: How can I beat my record? […] Rico has trained himself to better his time on the assembly line. […] After five years, his best average for a day has been twenty-eight seconds per unit.”
After this story I started to focus at new tasks (my body language and movement) while I’m working as a tour guide.

But an even more important discovery of this book for is that the field I have been thinking since my teenage years – is something that many others have given a lot of thoughts to. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s called positive psychology whose popular definition is “the scientific study of what makes life most worth living”.

It surprises and excites me greatly to feel that my thoughts have a place in this society.

Over the last 2 years since I’m having more plans with the outside world (not just myself) I’ve tried to create a clear mission for myself. My plans included traveling, politics, economy, writing, psychology, volunteering and a lot more. I’ve managed to eliminate most of them.
Still, a very clear goal awaits.

But this one book, Csíkszentmihályi’s Flow has made my mind more complex and helped me to arrive to the point where I (finally!) have a long-term goal: to raise the quality of the life of healthy people. I hope to do this by building a website similar to James Clear’s to reach and help lots of people. I’ll need a lot of knowledge I don’t have today. Education in writing, psychology, self-development and much more. I’m so looking forward to all this…

“The flow experience, like everything else, is not “good” in an absolute sense. It is good only in that it has the potential to make life more rich, intense, and meaningful; it is good because it increases the strength and complexity of the self. But whether the consequence of any particular instance of flow is good in a larger sense needs to be discussed and evaluated in terms of more inclusive social criteria. The same is true, however, of all human activities, whether science, religion, or politics.” (quotation from the book)

This is it, this is it. I’ve never wanted to be good. I’ve always wanted to have my life more rich, intense and meaningful. I’ve always wanted to be one of those guys that shows you how to be strong, rather than telling you what to use your strength for…

 

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