Christian Long

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow

In TED Talks on April 26, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Reflection by CONNOR M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:  Flow

These have been a long-running questions:

  • What makes us happy?
  • Where are we truly happy?

Of course the answer would differ between each individual, however how would we know true happiness to be if we never experienced it? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explores this.

It’s interesting that even statistics (the graph) represent that income does not raise happiness. The increase in money didn’t seem to affect how happy people are, and the two outcomes were fairly similar. As Csik. explained, the lack of resources did contribute to unhappiness, but the increase in material resources did not increase happiness.

He goes on to explain ecstasy, and how we experience a state outside of reality, outside of everyday life. The composer experiencing this, feeling as if he did not even exist in this intense emotion, felt that ecstasy, which was perhaps the true happiness for him. Perhaps that spontaneous flow of creativity is where all people experience true happiness, in any variation.

The figure skater explained that it was just something that clicked, that made you feel like you could go on and on. Sounds plausible. I’m sure at some point in our lives we have all experienced this ecstasy in some way.

I completely agree with Anita Roddick. The ecstasy and flow comes from passion, what people enjoy doing more than anything.

On the listed feelings of being in flow, I am almost sure I’ve experienced it before. Several times, in fact. I have sat down with a pen and just let the ideas flow onto the paper. I am in a state of total focus on what I’m doing, to the point that my surroundings seem to disappear. It may seem like such an exaggeration and simply repeating what Mihaly is saying, but honestly this is what the experience is like. The world becomes you and your work.

The greatest achievement, after experiencing flow and viewing this talk, I think would be to make a living off of such flow and have access to this passion throughout your life. There may be many forms that this flow may reach you, but if any of them are discovered, it would be best to grab hold of it. It is unlike any other experience.

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