Tuesday, April 10, 2012


In order to have an enjoyable life, the author of FLOW believes (based on research), we need to discipline our minds to focus on the present and on the activities we've chosen.  The author says that left to itself, our mind will just wander around and eventually focus on thoughts that carry the biggest charge of energy - which in almost all cases is whatever randomly shows up that's negative.  Our minds have evolved to protect us from danger so naturally run to the negative.  Unfortunately since we are not living with saber toothed tigers, this negative thinking is mostly not helpful - in fact, it's very UNhelpful.

According to the author, most of our addictive type activities:  drugs, alcohol, work, tv watching, etc. are designed to stop our minds from running to the negative.  Of course, there are big downsides to these efforts.  A much better way is to systematically train ourselves to think about - for the lack of a better word - our goals.  The author isn't very happy with the word,  "goal" because it's associated with the extrinsic rather than intrinsic.  He means activities and goals we have chosen strictly for ourselves rather than the objectives the culture determines for us.  The structure of goals we chose for ourselves decides what our lives will be about and how much we will enjoy our lives.  The research shows that when people are focused on the activities that will move them toward the goals they have for their lives, they are happy.  In the beginning, of course, these goals will usually be focused on the material as we establish ourselves as adults in the world, then many people will focus on the larger framework of the community and finally, the happiest people will work toward developing their talents.

The author is really unhappy about the direction our culture has taken in downgrading "amateur" hobbies.  He says that it's a shame that one's "hobby" is not considered important unless one makes money from it (which entitles one to be called, professional).  It's his contention that it used to be more common than it is now, that people sang in "amateur" choirs and choruses, played musical instruments in local bands and orchestras, painted, sculpted, wrote poetry, studied history for their own interest, etc.  Now, he says, people look down on those who do so.  In his opinion, if you have talents, you should develop them.  If you have interests, you should study.  What matters is that by developing yourself as a human being, you will have optimal experiences, which even if those experiences give joy only to you, the world will still have one more joyful person in it.

No comments:

Blog Archive