FLOW – THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HAPPINESS by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

  1. 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.
  2. In a comprehensive survey entitled The Quality of American Life published a decade ago, the authors report that a person’s financial situation is one of the least important factors affecting overall satisfaction with life.
  3. This connection is not surprising, because what we call religion is actually the oldest and most ambitious attempt to create order in consciousness. It therefore makes sense that religious rituals would be be a profound source of enjoyment.
  4. These findings suggest that people might vary in the number of external cues they need to accomplish the same mental task. Individuals who require a great deal of outside information to form representations of reality in consciousness may become more dependent on the external environment for using their minds. Thay would have less control over their thoughts, which in turn would make it more difficult for them to enjoy experience. By contrast, people who need only a few external cues to represent events in consciousness are more autonomous from the environment. They have a more flexible attention that allows them to restructure experience more easily, and therefore to achieve optimal experiences more frequently.
  5. Sigmund Freud amplified somewhat on this simple advice. When asked for his recipe for happiness, he gave a very short but sensible answer: Work and love. It is true that if one finds flow in work, and in relations with other people, one is well on the way toward improving the quality of life as a whole.
  6. A supportive social network also mitigates stress: an illness or other misfortune is less likely to break a person down if he or she can rely on the emotional support of others.
  7. Sooner or later, however, they realize that the composition of any work of art requires a sober mind. Work that is carried out under the influence of drugs lacks the complexity we expect from good art – it tends to be obvious and self-indulgent.
  8. Those who try to make life better for everyone without having learned to control their own lives first usually end up making things worse all around.
  9. One does not get to be a man by getting married, by having sex: to be a man means to be responsible, to know when it is time to speak, to know what has to be said, to know when one must stay silent.
  10. The meaning of life is meaning: whatever it is, wherever it comes from, a unified purpose is what gives meaning to life.
  11. “But complexity consists of integration as well as differentiation. The task of the next decades and centuries is to realize this under-developed component of the mind. Just as we have learned to separate ourselves from each other and from the environment, we now need to learn how to reunite ourselves with other entities around us without losing our hard-won individuality. The most promising faith for the future might be based on the realization that the entire universe is a system related by common laws and that it makes no sense to impose our dreams and desires on nature without taking them into account. Recognizing the limitations of human will, accepting a cooperative rather than a ruling role in the universe, we should feel the relief of the exile who is finally returning home. The problem of meaning will then be resolved as the individual’s purpose merges with the universal flow.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s