Rule 3 for Flourishing
Focused activity almost always leads to positive feelings.
This is the principle of FLOW (see Csiksentmihalyi).
Positive feelings allow a “broaden and build” approach to achievement.
When I write—anything from a PowerPoint presentation to a blog—I lose myself in creation. I love to communicate with others and be communicated to. I read voraciously, both professionally and personally. For me, writing is often thinking. I know what I think after I’ve written it on a computer screen. I might write for four hours and think I’ve been working for an hour. I am, as Csiksentmihalyi says, in FLOW, that is, I am unaware of anything around me including time, hunger, physical comfort or discomfort. My activity is focused on whatever it is that I’m creating.
While I wouldn’t say that I know I’m happy in these times, I would say that I’m completely absorbed by what I’m doing, and want to go on for as long as the work consumes me. In this state, which Barbara Fredrickson calls “broaden and build,” I’m particularly receptive to new ideas and to putting old ideas together in a new way. My mind is open to many more possibilities than when I’m bored or doing work that is an obligation rather than a pleasure.
Flow happens differently for each of us. My brother is building a class A carpentry shop in his basement. He has done beautiful work in the past and now, in retirement, has the time to tackle complex design challenges with his new equipment. He may never come out of the basement! His wife, a nurse by training and experience, paints pastel renderings of nature and people in her studio. She too, can lose herself in her painting.
Whatever flow is for you, spend as much time there as you reasonably can. This will enable you to see new perspectives about other things due to your “broaden and build” perspective, and to flourish in your whole life.