Today on Trend Following Radio Michael Covel begins with a clip from the creator of the psychological concept of flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The first question Mihaly asks is, “What is the meaning of happiness? If each one of us is responsible and in control of our happiness, then how do you obtain happiness?” People feel the most happy when they are able to express who they really are. When people express their strengths, they are able to say, “Yes, this is who I am.” It makes life suddenly matter and creates happiness. Mihaly came up with the term “flow” from people he would interview and study. When they would describe being truly happy, they would describe the feeling as being carried by a current and floating along.
Mihaly brings up a personal experience from fighting in WWII. He said when people lost their property and personal belongings, most would crumble. This is when he became interested in the differences between people who were able to be strong internally as opposed to those who needed to lean on society and what it could provide for them. He says, “Everyone is the master of their own destiny and should not allow themselves to be pulled by the strings of fortune or fame.”
Mihaly then goes into how to gain flow in your own life. The first step is to be totally focused on an intention. How can you organize your life so you can have that focus everyday? Flow rarely just happens. You have to work at it and prepare yourself mentally, but you can get to the point where you don’t have to think about what you are doing. It just flows naturally. Mihaly uses surgeons and rock climbers as examples. Both disciplines require great concentration and muscle coordination. Once you are in the zone, you aren’t aware of anything else such as being a father, husband or what you are having for dinner. You are there simply as a surgeon or rock climber, present in the moment, flowing from one task to another in order to accomplish the end goal.
Michael then goes on to play another clip from Csikszentmihalyi where he talks about the “struggling artist.” He makes the point that you don’t have to be tortured to be creative. He goes into a study he did that showed extraordinary people mostly come from lower class or upper class families. He found that people who came from a fairly comfortable childhood didn’t seem to find the need to stretch and challenge themselves. Michael brings it all together with a thought provoking excerpt from Alan Watts.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio: