Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What is Flow and being happy?

I was up a few nights ago watching a documentary called Happy. This documentary basically explained what makes some people feel true happiness. Of course, there isn't one answer to what makes us happy, but there was one thing that stood out to me... I found it pretty interesting because it really hit home- it's called flow.

Okay, so what is flow? Well, the best way to explain it in my Jess-terms is that it's the the thing that you do creatively and with all your energy. You're able to zone in on this one thing and give it all you've got. No other thoughts come in except for the task at hand. People who do these type of things regularly are proven to usually be some of the most happiest people on earth. 

It's interesting because these people are not necessarily rich or have what we'd consider to be everything- they're just people who were able to find flow in their everyday lives. Some of them were able to make their jobs into flow, some had hobbies that they considered their flow. It's the balance of challenge and achievement. Have you ever had a task at work that you just liked, and you found it sort of fun and the next thing you know a ton of time had passed and you didn't even know where the time even went? Or maybe you were weeding your garden and you realized that you felt such a sense of peace? Or you were taking a nice long run and you felt like it was completely effortless as your body took over and you were alone with your thoughts? The idea of flow is that when we feel a sense of accomplishment for doing something for no other reason than because we want to do it, that's when true happiness kicks in. Unfortunately, when we're told we have to do things to achieve something (maybe money?) that we start to feel unhappy. What's ironic to me, is that we live in a society that tells us that the more we work/do/have, the happier we will be. But it's this pressure to do more that is bringing us so down. 

Like I said before, this really hit home. I know that this concept seems pretty obvious, but maybe I'm a moron? I dunno, I'm not the smartest. I have always been in the state of mind that money is everything. I grew up in a household that was pretty broke, and so because I missed out on stuff, I've always been under the mindset that I need to have money so I can feel happy and buy stuff and do stuff and just stuff stuff stuff. And in my opinion, you have to be realistic and yes, money does make you happy (obviously assuming your basic needs are being met), but it's like a drug and the feeling is only temporary . Then you're out trying to seek more so you can have that elated so much money in your pocket feeling again. And then more stuff stuff stuff. The whole process of making that money that I need/may not need makes me bummed. Maybe because it is so important (I mean, I have a kid I'm trying to raise to live a normal comfortable life).

Back when I used to run, I would feel this flow feeling. I had gotten pretty good at running and I was able to go long distances and felt great. I remember at one point running barely felt difficult at all and it was truly just me and whatever music I was listening to. My goal every night was to run however miles that I wanted to run and I'd just go. I had such a sense of accomplishment and I did it for no other reason than for me. It felt so good, and I was always pretty proud of myself. Running was something that lingered in the back of my mind, and it was something I loved. I have lost that about myself, and I can honestly say that I've felt pretty lost lately. I'm not going to say I'm unhappy because I'm not running like I used to, but it was a huge part of my life and now it's not and I can't help but wonder if it has something to do with it. I had a sense of achievement for myself that was for no other reason than for myself

I'm trying to do something about my current state. I AM NOT miserable, but something is definitely missing and I couldn't figure it out until recently. In fact, I didn't even know how to articulate what felt wrong until watching that documentary. I know that the concept of flow really speaks to me because I realize now that I had it once. Back then I knew I loved running, but I didn't realize until now that it was so much more than just fitness. 

The bottom line is this- I will be finding my flow again (hey! I've actually been running for the past few days!). I'm eager to feel this sense of accomplishment again. Do you know what I mean? What would you consider your flow?


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