Yesterday I finished reading the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
What is it about? Oh happiness, to some extent.
Flow is a book about the optimal state of a person, about its components and the conditions for achieving it. The author managed to find, in my opinion, the perfect blend of psychological research and the history of philosophy. By applying the simple rules and principles described in it, you can make your life and the lives of your users much more pleasant.
All findings in the book are based on numerous interviews and Experience Sampling Method.
What is ESM? Volunteers wear pagers and questionnaires for a week. The pager calls 8 times a day at a random time. After receiving the call, volunteers fill out questionnaires about how happy they are, what they are doing at the moment, etc. To date, more than 100,000 such "stories" of life have been gathered around the world, from Japanese farmers to students in Europe to American Indians.
Surprisingly, all the data collected neatly fit into the big picture, it turns out that the “components of happiness” are one for all.
The results of research conducted by the author and his colleagues are not purely academic; they are actively used in practice to improve the quality of life (see below).
So what are these “ingredients of happiness”?
- The rules and goals are clear, there is some kind of progress indicator.
- The task on which we are focused must be doable.
- The ability to focus on the current task (read - less distractions and interruptions).
- The ability to control their actions and make decisions related to them.
- Complete, but easily accessible, immersion in work, forgetting about the world and its problems.
- Distraction from oneself and an altered awareness of time (“happy hours are not observed”).
The combination of all these elements causes a state of deep pleasure, which is so pleasant that people are ready to spend a lot of energy and strength just to feel it.
How does this apply in life?
One of the closest examples to the heart is computer games and their achievements (achievements). While playing we forget about time, the world around us and a runny nose that has been tormenting for a week now. We know what our goal in the game is (to rise to a higher level) and the rules for achieving it are familiar and understandable (kill 1000 orcs), there is an indicator of progress (560 left to kill), we control our actions (if you want to chase them one by one, you want to attack to the "flock"), etc.
The same rules can be applied both in work and in everyday life.
It is very important that all this is doable, that almost any task can be turned into a pleasant and interesting one, you just need to consciously want this.
For example, we all write code, the code is sometimes routine and not very creative. At such moments, I would rather finish and move on to more interesting things. If you consciously want to make this process more enjoyable, then you can find that goal / “competition” (be it all done in 20 minutes or you can accomplish the task in the most optimal way) and observing the rules above, start having fun.
Some people get it automatically, about such psychologists say that they have self-sufficient personality (autotelic personality). They do not need outside motivation to feel good and be interested in what they are doing.
Simple mortals require a conscious effort for this, having made that we internally grow and develop further.
This approach allows you to answer the eternal "most important" question: what is the purpose of life? The answer is simple - to turn your whole life into one connected continuous stream of happiness.
In conclusion, I want to once again recommend the book to those who read in English. Personally, I found in it a confirmation of some of my “life” conjectures and answers to many questions.
Finally, a few favorite quotes from the book:
It is a great deal of effort to achieve something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience.
The best moments usually occur when our body or mind is strained to the limit in a voluntary rush to achieve something complex and worthwhile. The optimal state, therefore, is that which we ourselves can create.
It’s no longer necessary to overcome any restrictions on human life. To achieve this autonomy. She has to develop her ability regardless of external circumstances.
In order to overcome the anxieties and depressions of modern life, a person must become more independent so that he does not react only to encouragement and punishment. To achieve such autonomy, you need to learn how to deliver rewards to yourself. It is necessary to develop the ability to find pleasure and purpose, regardless of external circumstances.
Democritus said so much ago: “Water can be both good and bad, useful and dangerous. However, a remedy has been found: learning to swim. ”
Democritus said long ago: “Water can be both good and bad, useful and dangerous. But a solution was found for her danger: learn to swim. ”
It becomes transformed. The essential steps in this process are:
a) to set an overall goal as a realistically feasible
b) to find the progress in terms of the goals chosen
c) to keep you concentrating on the activity
d) to develop
e) if the activity becomes boring
Even the simplest physical actions bring pleasure when they are modified to create a “flow.” This process includes the following steps:
a) set a goal and possible subgoals
b) find a way to measure the progress of achieving the selected goals
c) focus on achieving goals
d) develop skills to work with opening opportunities
d) raise the bar if it gets boring
..., enjoyment doesn’t depend on what you do, but rather how you do it.
..., pleasure does not depend on what you do, but on how you do it.