I came back yesterday from Chicago where I attended a PhD Colloquial with Capella University. Since the lion share of the course work for my psychology program is online I had been looking forward to meeting face to face with some of my fellow students. The experience was very intense study in formulating and narrowing down a topic for my future dissertation. I came back to Texas very tired and exhausted. As I thought about my exhaustion I felt it was a good exhaustion.
I call it a good exhaustion as it came out of a time of creatively thinking through a dissertation topic that had meaning to me. It was good as well from critically listening to the sharing by those in my general psychology cohort. I loved hearing my fellow classmates’ passion for their topics. The topics were varied touching on topics such as helps for public school students, drug abuse issues and chronic pain, fire fighter families, problems with social media and new tools for psychotherapists to use in treating clients. I could see how each person’s passion for their topic tied into their life story. That is one tip I encourage college students with. When they do a project try to find an angle to the project that taps into their interests and passion. It allows the student to have more motivation for the project and become personally absorbed into the project.
My dissertation topic will be focusing in on a topic I have mentioned in the past that of Flow which was first researched and termed by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Since I have been emphasizing reading this Summer I will mention one book of his that I re-read this Summer, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. I like the thought of Optimal Experience Dr. Csikszentmihalyi emphasizes in the book. It is living our lives to the full level of happiness which is what I am trying to get at with Living More Than OK. We are meant to live for more than just existing.
As I have mentioned before Flow is the deep concentration and pleasure one experiences when absorbed in an activity they enjoy where they have a competent level of skill. The examples that always come into my mind is seeing a painter absorbed in painting. They may have people walking by them on the beach as they paint the ocean view but they are not distracted as their focus is on the subject of the painting. My flow activities are reading, music, prayer and exercise. The whole concept I feel relates to natural highs that I promote from the website naturalhigh.org.
Dr. Csikszentmihalyi’s in his researching of Flow reveals in the book eight aspects of Flow that are important in reminding us the importance to incorporate Flow activities in our person lives. One is where we do activities that we have an inner confidence we can do them. Second is that we can focus in and concentrate on the activity. Three is where we mentally establish clear goals for the activity. Fourth is where we can gain immediate feedback from self or others. Fifth is that it is an activity that we absorb ourselves in and not worry about what is going on around us. Sixth is when we do enjoyable activities we use personal control in doing the activity. Seventh is a paradox of losing the sense of self while doing the activity yet we feel more positive about ourselves after doing the activity. Then the eighth and last aspect is that our perception of the sense of time is altered. The activity is not boring so we lose track of time. Think of when you have done something where you say, “I could do this for hours!” (page 48).
If you think of the eight aspects of Flow you can see how they add to living life abundantly and to the full. Having read through the writings of Dr. Csikszentmihalyi it reminds me of a former Professor I had who spoke of the “Power of One”. Meaning that one person can have a large impact on the world. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi’s years of work and research on Flow have added so much to humanity in reminding us of the need to break away from passive existence. Examples of passive existence is wasting too much of our time on passively watching television or mindless videos on the internet. His work is an encouragement to actively seek out Flow activities that add meaning to our living and expand our minds and skills.
Reflection: What are your Flow activities? Do you take time to make time in your schedule during the week for activities you enjoy?