When in doubt, go find flow

Fulfillment

Life is most fulfilling, I have found, during bouts of prolonged flow experiences. To enjoy your time most, between flow experiences, it is important to seek laughter. Engaging in laughter is a great way to find fulfillment in the seemingly dull plateaus we find ourselves in in-between flow states. Always keep a sense of humour, time spent laughing is of a higher quality than time spent being angry, indifferent, or too serious. 

Happiness

“Twenty-three hundred years ago, Aristotle concluded that, more than anything else, men and women seek happiness. While happiness itself is sought for its own sake, every other goal, health, beauty, money, or power, is valued only because we expect that it will make us happy”
 - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

In the present day, we can see clear advancements in human life expectancy, technology, transportation measures, and human strength and speed, yet we have made very little progress on the subject of happiness. Arguably we know about as much about happiness as Aristotle concluded twenty-three hundred years ago.

While material wealth may contribute to creating an environment more conducive to generating happiness, money does not directly cause happiness. Due to its intangible characteristics, which make it all the more valued and desired, the pursuit of happiness is an ongoing hunt that every individual will engage in throughout their life. There are many things in this life that are out of our control. Yet, when we experience happiness and total engagement we most often feel in control.

One's ability to experience happiness has a direct effect on the quality of life lived. It is hard to imagine a more important priority to underline than your ability to experience happiness and a high quality of life. 

The context of happiness, with respect to this piece, is related to our own journey to achieve and experience the feeling. A negative, pessimistic individual conveys a shadow that is not conducive to spreading happiness and fulfillment. In contrast, an individual that is experiencing happiness and exuding positivity encourages a reciprocal feeling in those around them.  In order to be in a position to have an impact, we must be familiar with what it means to be happy in our own individual quest. In addition, it would be helpful to know when and how we most effectively experience our highest quality of life.  Put frankly, you need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.

What Is A State of Flow?

Put simply, flow states are optimal experiences felt throughout life. These states include two essential characteristics of pleasure and enjoyment, which have been characterized as key components to happiness and quality of life. Pleasure and enjoyment will ultimately happen during your life, but it is important to note that measures can be taken to improve the frequency of these feelings. An individual can gain a certain type of personal control over their quality of experience. It is therefore, beneficial to learn how to build these desired circumstances in your life.

Characteristics of Flow

  • Intrinsically rewarding: “So enjoyable, and fulfilling it is done for its own sake. “
  • A challenging experience that requires skill: “Whether a sport, leisure activity, personal or social experience, each experience requires the utilization of different skill sets, often feels effortless.”
  •  Concentration:While it lasts, one is able to forget all the unpleasant aspects of life… enjoyable activities require a complete focusing of attention on the task at hand, thus leaving no room in the mind for irrelevant information.”
  • The loss of self-consciousness: “An activity is thoroughly engrossing, there is not enough attention left over to allow a person to consider either the past or the future, or any other temporarily irrelevant stimuli. “
  • The transformation of time: “During optimal experiences, time does not seem to pass as it normally does (I.e. may speed up, or slow down).”

Common Flow Activities

  • Sport
  • Music
  • Reading/ Writing
  • Leisure Activities
  • Sex
  • Stimulating Conversation
  • Hiking/Walking
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Woodworking
  • Cooking/Baking
  • Art
  • Computer programming
  • Storytelling                    

Flow & Impact

It is my opinion that you are your best version of yourself while experiencing a flow state or after the flow experience has subsided. As the characteristics that are aligned with flow are the same qualities that individuals describe as keys to achieving and experiencing happiness. You are best suited to positively impact another individual when you are experiencing happiness, fulfillment, and positive energies.

Be selfish to the extent that you seek and find your own personal happiness. As this selfish act will put you in an optimal position and mindset to help others. I have found the two main sources for my sensations of happiest have occurred as a result of either flow states or helping another individual. If you’re looking for happiness, this is where I would suggest you look for it.

The outline provided on happiness, impact and flow states includes very simple advice, much of which would be considered ‘common sense’. I am simply suggesting that you have an awareness for the things that lead to fulfillment, engagement, and happiness in your life.

With that in mind, I challenge you to attempt to experience flow every day. If you need suggestions, reference the list provided earlier of flow-inducing activities.  In addition, I will also challenge to help at least one person every day, which you may not have otherwise done. Implementing these aspects into your life will prove to be a worthy investment towards your perceived quality of life.  

In summary, seek flow states, seek laughter, and help others. You will be glad you did.