Flow: Creating Your Own Happiness

We often create our own stress by worrying and overthinking things.  There are ways of training ourselves away from these counterproductive activities, thereby reducing stress and strengthening our ability to deal with it.

Through yoga and meditation we can bring ourselves into the present.  We spend so much time in thought that we are rarely truly “here now,” in body and mind.  Increasing our time in the present naturally decreases the fluctuations of our busy minds.  There are many ways (within and aside from yoga) of bringing ourselves into the present.  The more of them we can incorporate into our lives, the more content we will be.

Our goal is to stay in the current moment as much as possible — not to indulge in fantasy, memory, or projection.  We can do this by becoming entirely involved in whatever activity we are engaged in.  This being entirely involved in what we are engaged in is what psychology professor Mihály Csíkszentmihályi refers to as “flow.”*  Yoga is an excellent tool for learning this discipline, which can bring great joy to our lives.  The activity we are engaged in, however, need not be yoga. 

Try some of the following suggestions of ways to bring yourself into flow.  Write your own list of activities that you enjoy and then allow yourself to become completely immersed in them on a regular basis.  Keep things interesting; monotony breeds discontent, so try changing the activity from day to day unless it is something that truly captivates you.  Keep track of how your perception changes, of how satisfied you feel once you’ve begun consciously coming into the present in this way.  This doesn’t have to be formal — you can keep a journal or, on a weekly basis, simply reflect.

  • Play an instrument
  • Play golf
  • Do pottery
  • Play tennis
  • Go horseback riding
  • Draw or paint a picture
  • Read a book
  • Write a poem, story, or journal
  • Go skiing
  • Meditate or pray
  • Go running
  • Play a video game
  • Go hiking

* Csíkszentmihályi, M. 2008. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper Collins, 336p.

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