Monday, May 31, 2010

Next spin starts fresh

I spent yesterday afternoon with a bottle of Bordeaux, a book and some live music in Montmartre. I finally got my act together and organised a Schengen visa, so now I may be able to pop over far more regularly. The intention was to watch the tennis... but that was not to be. Instead I wondered the streets of Paris. Not a bad outcome.

I am busy reading 'Flow' and can highly recommend it. In it, Mihaly C talks in detail about his decades long study of the science of happiness. 'Flow' relates to...
'we have all experience times when, instead of being buffeted by anonymous forces, we do feel in control of our actions, masters of our own fate. On the rare occasions that it happens, we feel a sense of exhilaration, a deep sense of enjoyment and that becomes a landmark in memory for what life should be like. This is what we mean by optimal experience. It is what the sailor holding a tight course feels when the wind whips through her hair, when the boat lunges through the waves like a colt - sails, hull, wind, and sea humming in harmony that vibrates in the sailor's veins. It is what the painter feels when the colors on the canvas begin to set up a magnetic tension with each other, and a new thing, a living form, takes shape in front of the astonished creator. Or it is the feeling a father has when his child for the first time responds to his smile. Such events do not occur only when the external conditions are favorable, however: people who have survived concentration camps or who have lived through near-fatal physical dangers often recall that in the midst of their ordeal they experience extraordinarily rich epiphanies in response to such simple events as hearing the song of a bird in the forest, completing a hard task, or sharing a crust of bread with a friend.'
Apologies for the long quote. I would quote the whole book if it could get you to read it. I think the concept of 'flow' and cultivation of it cuts through the quagmire of mans search for meaning, and while not giving a step-by-step approach to happiness, is a fantastic guide.

Sometimes life just seems to throw everything it can at you. In the words of J.H.Holmes 'The universe is not hostile, nor yet is it friendly. It is simply indifferent.' While some people choose to find comfort in the world making sense in terms of a cosmic plan, I find it far more comforting to think of it as random. Even if I have bet black three times in a row, and it has been red all three times... the world forgets. The next spin starts fresh. Each time you wake up, the people who hate you are likely not thinking of you, and no one except those you love are looking out for you. On the balance, 'the force' is probably in your favour.

So it becomes a case of focusing. Focusing on something good. Something in your control. Something that gives you joy. Something that gives you flow. Each time thoughts wonder to something else, choose to have them wonder back and things get better.

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