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Go With The Groove

Whether we are in the company of other people or not makes a great difference to the quality of experience. We are biologically programmed to find other human beings the most important objects in the world. Because they can make life either very interesting and fulfilling or utterly miserable, how we manage relationships with them makes an enormous difference to our happiness. If we learn to make our relations with others more like flow experiences, our quality of life is going to be much improved.
~Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiFlow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

I remember first reading Flow and calling his office, at the time, at the University of Chicago to talk with Csikszentmihalyi about my overwhelming experience of reading his book. Thank goodness he wasn't there. Doing something like this is so out of character for me, but his work is so incredible and timely, and remains so even now, after thirty years. Csikszentmihalyi has done experiments for years on what makes people happy as opposed to say being apathetic, worried, or highly anxious. Being happy like Pharrell Williams (the Happy song man--"Here come bad news talking this and that (yeah), Well, give me all you got, and don't hold it back (yeah), Well, I should probably warn you, you'll be just fine (yeah), No offense to you, don't waste your time, Here's why, Because I'm happy) is all in the "flow," like being in the zone of a groove. We are all capable of being happy most of the time in our life. In Csikszentmihalyi's words, flow is "a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it."

There is no question that most of us are not in the groove of feeling happy. We've gone through a massive pandemic, and we fear the aftermath may be as horrible as the major event. Our global politics look like we are on the cusp of 1939, instead of 2021, and here I am talking about happiness. The concept of flow is not about fixing the world's problems, but about helping you with your life's challenges and lining them up with your skills. It's about finding the balance between the two and getting the juices flowing.

Csikszentmihalyi describes eight characteristics of flow:

  1. Complete concentration on the task.
  2. Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback.
  3. Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down).
  4. The experience is intrinsically rewarding.
  5. Effortlessness and ease.
  6. There is a balance between challenge and skills.
  7. Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination.
  8. There is a feeling of control over the task.

Let's get you started on moving towards happiness and getting to a new level of consciousness. Each of our twelve Charter sectors has a Compassion Reader to support the work of the sector. You'll find several articles in the Health Compassion Reader on happiness. A good place to start is to consider frequent mistakes made when it comes to our personal happiness. Once that hurdle is crossed, practice happiness as a skill, and you might want to finish up suggestions science makes about helping you become happy. The latter will assure that you are working towards your own personal "flow."

With warm regards,

This message from Marilyn Turkovich, Executive Director of the Charter for Compassion, appears in our 07/018/2021 weekly newsletter. To sign up for our newsletter, scroll all the way down to the end of this page to get to the bottom menu, in the newsletter section enter your email address and click on subscribe.

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Friday, 02 June 2023
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