Ms Taruna Upadhyay is declared best reviewer of the quarter Jan- March 2022 for the book Finding Flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
Happiness is not an authentic tool to measure successful life. It is surprising to learn that despite problems and tragedies, all over the world, people tend to describe themselves as much more happy than unhappy. Instead, author proposes to measure success through flow experiences-where what we feel, what we wish and what we think are in harmony. Flow occurs in activities when goals are clear, feedback is immediate & challenges and skills are in balance. Our attention and psychic energy are ordered and fully invested with no space for distracting thoughts, irrelevant feelings. When we are in flow, we are not happy, as to experience happiness would take away attention from task at hand. Only after the task is complete in retrospect, we are happy. Author has divided our life in three major parts- Work, Maintenance (Routine activities) and Leisure. • Many people don’t enjoy the work they do. Instead of external conditions, it is how one works and what experiences one is able to derive determines excellence in life. • We don’t know how to spend free time in a sensible way. The mind begins to wander and start focusing on unresolvable problems that cause anxiety. To make the best use of free time, one needs to devote as much ingenuity and attention to it as one would to one’s job. • Active leisure activities like hobby and sports, provide more flow experiences than the more solitary & less structured passive leisure activities like watching tv. Each of the flow producing activities requires an initial investment of attention before it begins to be enjoyable; hence many people find it difficult to access it. The first step in improving the quality of life is to pay attention to what we do every day, how we feel in different activities, places, times of day and with different companions. Prioritization and planning of activities is extremely important to best utilize psychic energy which is a limited resource and helps prevent stress. In personal life, we can have flow experiences with family and friends by identifying common goals and spending time together to achieve those. People who experience flow are internally motivated, autonomous and independent. Roots of interpersonal conflict are often an excessive concern for oneself and inability to pay attention to the needs of others. The more psychic energy we invest in a painful event, the more real it becomes. Look suffering straight in the eye, acknowledge and respect its presence, and get busy focusing on other important things. Unless one has mastered the skill of reflection, the practice of thinking about problems usually aggravates whatever is wrong instead of alleviating it. Instead, one should develop the habit of reflecting on one’s life when there is reason to feel good about it, in an upbeat mood. Even if one doesn’t experience flow, just the fact of doing something in line with one’s goals improves the state of mind.