Sunday, April 04, 2010

What really matters

I have posted on 'Creativity' by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi before, and I highly recommend it as worth a read. He also wrote 'Flow' which is next on my list.

After telling the tale of a number of very creative individuals, he finishes with some practical advice. I really like the idea of practical steps towards Happiness. Although everyone has their own definition of what it means to be happy, I find Mihaly's argument (excuse the first name basis but his surname is really long) that happiness is more of an after the event reflection on a life fulled with engagement, creativity and play - what he calls flow. What I most like about it is that it is a very tangible concept. One that is within the reach of every individual and not as ellusive as some other definitions of happiness. 'Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.'

Here are some of the key points from his concluding remarks, though I would advise reading the book to get at the meat (sorry for my veggie friends... to get at the core):

Curiosity and Interest

  1. Try to be surprised by something every day
  2. Try to surprise at least one person every day
  3. Write down each day what surprised you and how you surprised others.
  4. When something strikes a spark of interest, follow it.

Cultivating Flow in Everyday Life

  1. Wake up in the morning with a specific goal to look forward to
  2. If you do anything well, it becomes enjoyable
  3. To keep enjoying something, you need to increase its complexity

Habits of Strength

  1. Take charge of your schedule
  2. Make time for reflection and relaxation
  3. Shape your space
  4. Find out what you like and what you hate about life
  5. Start doing more of what you love, less of what you hate

Internal Traits

  1. Develop what you lack
  2. Shift often from openess to closure
  3. Aim for complexity

Problem Finding

  1. Find a way to express what moves you
  2. Look at problems from as many viewpoints as possible
  3. Figure out the implications of the problem
  4. Implement the solution.

Divergent Thinking

  1. Produce as many ideas as possible
  2. Have as many different ideas as possible
  3. Try to produce unlikely ideas
As is normally the case, some of what he says resonates, and some doesn't. But it is rather empowering knowing that though the world is a random random place, we have a lot of control over large chunks of what really matters.
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