Are You Really Happy? Start Looking for the Flow.

Posted: April 14, 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

By Sean O’Hara, RMU Student.

As I drove to class this evening I started to ponder the things that make me happy. More so, the things that make me feel personally satisfied, e.g. money, family, that “A” I received on the management paper, etc. But, I really don’t think these things satisfied meProfile-Mihaly-Csikszentmihalyi personally. I mean, I love my family, I make decent money, and grades come and go. I thought to myself, what was this thing that creates true happiness? And then it came to m: ‘Flow’. ‘Flow’ you ask? You see, I learned this concept while taking a psychology class at Harper College in my freshman year. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the former head of the psychology department at the University of Chicago and the department of sociology and anthropology at Lake Forest College. The idea of ‘Flow’ was introduced by Csikszentmihalyi as a tool to measure genuine satisfaction and true happiness.

Csikszentmihalyi believes that if a task is too challenging and you possess a low skill level 1000px-Challenge_vs_skill.svg_this would create anxiety. By the same token, if a task has a low level of challenge and a high skill level required, one would become relaxed and less engaged. In a perfect world everyone would have high skill and challenge levels; this is where ‘flow’ takes hold. When in ‘flow’, while at work or at play, a person is in a state where nothing else matters. This means focused, productive, and more importantly, happy and satisfied; that mental state where nothing is distracting and you are completely zoned in on the task at hand. The cool thing about this concept is that you can identify when you are in flow, and when you are not. Here is what you can do:

1)      Set the alarm on your smart phone to go off four times a day, every day, for a week. Make sure the times are random, twice in the A.M and twice in the P.M.

2)      Each time you receive the alert write down what you are doing and the level you being challenged and skill level you possess. Rate each of these, level of challenge and level of skill required, on a scale of 1-5, one being the lowest.

3)      At the end of the week take a look at your results and determine when you were being the most challenged and when you possessed the skill level needed to accomplish the task.

Yeah, you are probably thinking, so how is this information useful? Well, the data offers a kind of road map for you to identify your strengths and improve your weaknesses. For instance, if you are finding yourself in the area on the chart in apathy, boredom, or relaxation levels, you probably need to increase the challenge of the tasks. If you have apathy, worry, or anxiety, you may want to increase your skill level when completing those o-buy-happiness-facebooktasks.

Now, I realize that we not always going to be in ‘Flow’. But wouldn’t it be great if we could load the dice and set ourselves up for the highest possible payout? What would you give to be happy and content in life? Believe it or not the happiest people on this planet are not the wealthiest, with the best families, and the best jobs. So find your ‘Flow’ and make yourself happy. It’s worth it.

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