Quote Series No. 31 (Happiness and Flow)

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” 


This (hopefully) thought-provoking quote is accompanied by a link to a video of a speech by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychologist. In the video, Dr. C defines “flow” and discusses its importance in our lives as a source of happiness. He points out that happiness and unhappiness are both internal forces that, if felt authentically, should not be influenced by external circumstances. That’s right, we define and control our own happiness. Simple enough in theory, but at some point or another most of us have blamed some external force for ruining our day. Turns out it didn’t, our perspective did.

He defines flow as the sensation of being in harmony with both ourselves and our environment, and points to it as the intersection of action and awareness. In a day and age where distractions and activities are pulling us in 4,928,023 different directions all at once, we may often find it difficult to focus our attention on any one given task for too long. However, Dr. C’s research has led him to the conclusion that flow is fully felt when we focus our attention on a limited stimulus field, being completely concentrated on and involved in one task. Our sense of time becomes distorted, our focus shifts away from ourselves and our egos, and the fear of failure dissipates as we are fulfilled with an activity that serves as its own reward. He challenges us to create this environment and be aware of this sensation not only in pleasurable activities such as sports or the arts, but also in whatever we consider to be the “mundane” tasks of life- work, school, even household chores. If it’s true that we create our own happiness, why not try to adopt a perspective that enables us to do so all of the time?

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