The Acton Blog selected a book entitled The Happiness Hypothesis as part of a monthly book club. I am familiar with the Acton MBA program since the founder was one of my best professors many years ago, and the timing and topic were perfect for several reasons.
With this background, they posted questions to consider (Check out Reflecting On The Happiness Hypothesis). One of the questions was “When was the last time you found yourself in a state of flow?“ Their post – Discussing The Happiness Hypothesis – captures various responses to all the questions posed.
The Happiness Factor is an excellent book, and it is one which will make you think. It is not a book to read as you are falling asleep, since you will not want to fade away during one of the many important points or discussions.
Experiencing flow is a wonderful thing. Flow was defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. As stated in the book:
“It is the state of total immersion in a task that is challenging yet closely matched to one’s abilities. It is what people sometimes call ‘being in the zone.’ Csikszentmihalyi called it ‘flow’ because it often feels like effortless movement: Flow happens, and you go with it.”
There is much more discussion around this concept, but this gives you an idea of what it is. As it relates to the question highlighted above, there were two recent flow experiences for me.
The first relates to rebranding the company that I am involved in. There were many, many activities which needed to be completed, and they required a range of skills – from creative to tactical, strategic to operational. Working with tight timelines, a range of people within our company, and external resources, it was a challenging time, but one that encompassed a great deal of personal satisfaction. The company and product re-branding was needed but also posed many risks. Professionally, it was a rewarding time, a rich combination of leading, doing, and interacting. The launch was smooth, and the end result was well received. The new brand is enabling us to get to the next growth stage for our business.
My second flow experience is a youth program which is under development. A good friend of mine invited me to attend Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit in 2008 and again in 2009. I couldn’t attend the first time asked; and, truth be told, last year, I reluctantly attended. For this year’s Global Leadership Summit, my perspective has totally changed; where my first one was reluctantly attended, this one will include my enthusiastic attendance.
In the end, the leadership summit was a much-needed energizing experience. It was inspiring and challenging. The event galvanized an inner spirit within me to begin to develop a youth program centered on principles of leadership, faith, and choices. The seeds of this idea had been on my mind for some time, but this event took it from my mind and enabled it through my heart and soul.
For several weeks after this event, I scribbled pages of notes on program structure, class topics, program titles, etc. To some degree, no pun intended, I felt on fire!
Personally, it is a wonderful experience, especially as the program moves forward. Excitement around the program has been solid. After several pilots earlier this year, we are formally launching it in the fall.
My state of flow combines several factors. The program development and launch are very inspirational, very challenging and, so far, very rewarding. While my first flow example was based on a corporate renewal, the second one is based on a personal one. Both are great experiences and encompass joy in what I do, and I am very grateful to have this spectrum of life experiences.
These moments of flow are truly some of the best times in life. Life always creates ebbs and flows, but many times it is up to us to make the waves happen. It is not necessarily a solitary initiative, but one that can be sparked by an individual and then spread to others.
Thought points: What are, or have been, your state of flow moments? How can you position yourself to be in the flow? Another angle – how can we position ourselves to be in the state of flow more often?
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Being in a State of Flow
For additional insight from the author of The Happiness Hypothesis, Acton MBA blog recently posted an interview with Jonathan Haidt entitled Happiness Hypothesis: Ask the Author.