Friday, April 15, 2005

Something to Dwell On

I always try and find something to "Dwell On" when I am faced with long flights. This is usually something I stumble upon whilst aimlessly wandering web. It also has to be something that Jano or Alan Watts would define as a "synchronicity" something that intersects my path in a meaningful way. Today, I found it at The Heretik which I try and visit regularly for inspiration and almost always a laugh. It's about creativity and is concerning the work of Mihalyi Csikszentmihayli.
Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience and Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention According to the Heretik both are must reads for people interested in creativity. Both are supposedly written for non-academic readers.

Csikszentmihayli is the architect of the notion of Flow in creativity. People enter a flow state when they are fully absorbed in activity during which they lose their sense of time and have feelings of great satisfaction. Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."

Mihalyi's elements of Flow are:
1. There are clear goals every step of the way.
2. There is immediate feedback to one’s actions.
3. There is a balance between challenges and skills.
4. Action and awareness are merged.
5. Distractions are excluded from consciousness.
6. There is no worry of failure.
7. Self-consciousness disappears.
8. The sense of time becomes distorted.
9. The activity becomes autotelic (something which is a end in itself).

I will write these on a card and put them in my pocket. I will eventually memorize them and can ponder them for the 8+ hours to Paris tomorrow. I will probably even run them over and over while I listen to whatever shows up on the iPod and see if synergy results. These nine elements are very Zen and I can feel that, right now, they are important to me. This is what Alan and Jano meant when they talked about synchronicity. You have to have to be open to them and recognize them when they pass but that you can't have any purposeful search for them. You just have to let them appear and accept them. We'll see.

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