Happiness | Day 130 of my 2023 Journal
When I was seventeen, I read the book “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I never learned to say his last name with confidence, but besides that, it has been one of the most influential books in my life.
I have also enjoyed the Dalai Lama's book on Happiness, as I find the topic of human thriving very interesting. As a psychologist, I have studied all the things that can go wrong and many different ways to fix it, but I always thought it is crucial to understand what a truly beautiful life looks like.
One of the main insights from Flow is that most people do not know what makes them happy. They think they do, but they don’t. Huge studies have been made to check if people are happy when they find themselves in situations they believe to be happy moments, and usually, they are much more happy in other situations.
When they are in a flow state, to be precise.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . . The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” This somehow contrasts the epidemic of stress-related disorders, as everyone seems to think slowing down and more sofa time would make for a better life. The core is not there. It is one of the major points I keep talking about over and over.
The key is freedom. The word ‘voluntary’ in the quote is important.
If an activity is totally absorbing and will challenge everything you have, AND you do it because of your passion, voluntarily and wholeheartedly - THEN and only then will flow state be possible. If we are pushed around by other people's agendas or our fears or some false idea about what a “good” life looks like, chasing accomplishments that do not truly matter to us, we will be stressed, not in flow, and not happy.
I find it crucial to always be aware of our core values, our next goals, our dreams, and big and small things we could put on our bucket lists and vision boards, so we can be clear on why we do what we do. Also, we need to risk ourselves and be authentic so we don’t end up doing what we think other people expect from us.
Love and light
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