Cultivating Happiness - Creativity & Flow

photo credit: dean hochman

photo credit: dean hochman

I’m currently thinking about happiness: what leads to it? Is it the goal in life? Why is it easier for some to achieve than others?  What makes a happy life? 

It turns out that money certainly isn’t the answer.  Once people have enough to get by comfortably, money doesn’t add much to happiness. 

I’m really intrigued by the idea of flow.  Flow is a state that you achieve when your challenges and your abilities are both high: when you lose yourself in your work because you are so engaged in it.

For many people this happens when in the process of creating something new; I’ve realized that for me this happens when creating art, or cooking.  This is the reason that adult coloring books are becoming so popular; it’s a kind of meditation.  You don’t have enough attention left over to focus on your problems, your body, or even your existence.  In a way, you disappear, lose yourself in the activity, or you merge with your work.  This state has been described as effortless, spontaneous, and ecstatic.

Experts who study flow have described it as a state where an intense focus leads to a sense of ecstasy and clarity; time disappears, and you forget yourself because you feel part of something larger.  You know that you can be successful at what you’re doing; you know exactly what to do from moment to moment, and you receive immediate feedback from your process.  This is effort for its own sake.  It’s a passion for doing your best and enjoying your work.

Given all of this, it might be worth a few minutes thought, no? 

What activities can you lose yourself in?  How often do you create opportunities to do so?