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Find Happiness by finding flow

Happiness Hack #6: Find Flow

Find Flow in 90 minute distraction free intervals for higher levels of happiness

Flow is a state where you lose track of time and your surroundings. You are so caught up in what you are doing, your brain doesn’t process unrelated outside information.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the leading expert on flow, found that people who became really absorbed in what they were doing had higher levels of happiness. The more they got into flow, the happier they were.

Flow requires challenges that push us out of our comfort zone but are not too demanding. It requires that we know enough to do the task well, but we still enjoy learning and getting better. It is an optimal experience.

1. Find a project or activity where you are confident in your abilities but it is still challenging for you.
2. Turn off all distractions – e-mail reminders, texts, instant messages, and other interruptions.
3. Work for 90 minutes without interruption and see how much you can get done.
4. Then take 15 minutes to walk around and re-energize before you start again.

The key is to not work for 10 hours straight with 12 distractions per hour. You leave work feeling tired without feeling like you accomplished anything. Find Flow in 90 minute distraction free intervals. You will be more productive and happier at the same time.

Happiness Hack #5 – Make Time to Exercise


Happiness Hack #7 – Keep a Happiness Jar

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness in the Workplace

Happy employees enhance the overall performance of an organization.  However, studies show that only 1 in 5 employees (20%) actually report being happy at work.  So that means that approximately 80% of employees are unhappy at work and therefore, negatively impacting the performance of your business.  Companies are now beginning to recognize the changes in employee attitudes and are focusing on improving the culture of their company.

First of all, let’s start with WHY you should care about the happiness of your employees.  As mentioned above, happier employees are more productive and will provide higher benefits to your business.  Lately, probably for a variety of reasons including economic environment and world tragedies, employees are feeling more stressed, less secure, and ultimately less satisfied at work.  This environment adds up to higher absenteeism, less productivity, and higher turnover in your organization.  All of these issues have a negative drag on the business.

While HAPPINESS can be defined in a variety of different ways and is comprised of many elements, Martin Seligman outlined the key elements impacting HAPPINESS… Pleasure, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.  If you can find a formula the leverages these elements, you will generally see that your employees:

  • love their work and find it meaningful
  • consistently give all that they can
  • work collaboratively with others

Resulting in a happier employee and stronger business.

One interesting note is that HAPPINESS becomes an ongoing circle for your employees and your business.  Happier employees are more satisfied with their lives, enjoy better health, live longer and have better relationships.  Additionally, HAPPINESS is contagious.  Happy employees on your team will drive others within the organization to be happier – thus continuously driving improvements.

While it has such an impact on business performance, like most things, establishing a culture that drives employee happiness isn’t rocket science; however, it does take a bit of effort and focus on doing a few things all of the time.

Here are a few broad areas to align your focus on – Purpose, Autonomy, Mastery, and Connection.

  • Purpose – give everyone a purpose and show how they link to the bigger purpose of the organization and beyond.  When people have a purpose, they are excited and driven.
  • Autonomy – give people the freedom in achieving their goals.  This doesn’t mean that we aren’t held accountable.  There is a balance.
  • Mastery – give everyone the tools and opportunities to be successful.  Tools can be coaching, equipment, training, applications, etc.
  • Connection – people need a level of connection and collaboration with others.  It is important that a team is well connected internally and externally.

The formula is to leverage a combination of these elements because focusing on just one will not achieve the greatest results.  For instance, if you simply provide someone with a strong purpose, but don’t give them access to the tools for success or don’t allow them to achieve their objectives, overall success will suffer.

 

 

Skiing Down the Mountain of Life

We just finished a week long ski vacation with the family, and every year it is a fantastic experience.  Over the years I have noticed a few lessons that are applicable to our success as well as our life and happiness.

 

  1. Sometimes you go with the flow of the mountain and roll with the hills and turns it gives you; sometimes you cut across the mountain and define your own path; and sometimes you tuck and go as fast as you can in a race to the finish.   Our lives and careers are a balance and we are happier when we can learn to do all three. If we spend too much time going with the flow, we get bored and don’t feel challenged.  If we spend too much time battling and blazing our own trail we get worn out and beat up, and don’t have time to appreciate the other parts of our life, and if we don’t focus and head for the finish line every now and then, we spend our lives in “almost mode”, never fully reaching our dreams. Find the balance that is right for you.  Pay attention to when one method isn’t working and you should switch to another.
  2. The battle is between you and the mountain; don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.  Some people will be slower than you and some will be faster.   Older people will struggle to get down the mountain, while small children will whiz by in a flash of confidence and skill.  If you are thinking about how or what they are doing, you can’t focus on how you can get better and make it down the mountain in the best way for you.    If you compare yourself to others and come up short, you risk losing the confidence and momentum needed to be your best.   If you compare yourself to others and come up looking better, you can become complacent and not reach your full potential.  Your success and happiness depend on your ability to focus on being the best you can be, rather than being distracted by what everyone else can be.
  3. When you fall down don’t lay in the snow.  It just makes you colder and less motivated.  Too often we get knocked down by the challenges in life and find it easier to just lay there instead of jumping up and risking another failure.  The longer we lay there the harder it is to get up and get going again.  Don’t get stuck on the mountain wishing you hadn’t failed. Get up out of the snow as fast as you can, fix your skis, adjust your goggles and head back down the mountain. Chase your goals until you reach them, no matter how many times you fall.
  4. Take lessons.  Don’t believe you can teach yourself or that you are the only person in the world who is dedicated to helping you get better.  We all need help and perspectives from different people. We need encouragement and brutal honesty.  Surround yourself with teachers, learn from everyone you can.  Keep pushing to become better. Help others by letting them help you.

 

Lastly and most importantly, skiing is not just about getting down the mountain; it is about enjoying the trip.  Focus on the goal, but have fun along the way. Then when you get to the bottom, you will be excited to ride back up the lift and start again.

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Get into the Flow

Flow is a state where you lose track of time and your surroundings. You are so caught up in what you are doing, your brain doesn’t process unrelated outside information.

 

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…the best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the leading expert on flow, found that people who became really absorbed in what they were doing had higher levels of happiness. The more they got into flow, the happier they were.

Athletes call it being in “the zone”. That place where time stands still and you understand exactly what you need to do and how you need to do it. In your work, there are probably several tasks you seem uniquely suited to. Activities where you have been doing them long enough that you can focus and knock them out, but that always require you be at your top performance. You set aside time and start working. At some point, you are interrupted by a colleague about going to lunch. You look up and realize you have been focused for more than an hour and it seems like only minutes. You don’t remember anything else being in your life in the past hour but you and the task. You feel energized and happy at getting so much done. That is when you have achieved flow.

Flow is something we can control. We can work to find ways to achieve flow and as a result, we can find ways to be happier.

To find flow find adapt your tasks to include the following characteristics:

  1. Potential for Completion – you have a realistic chance of completing the task or that phase of the task.
  2. Concentration – you have or can create the silence or isolation in your environment so you can fully concentrate.
  3. Clear goals – you know exactly what you are going to accomplish and can clearly measure or see that accomplishment.
  4. Immediate Feedback – you know in the moment how you are doing and that you are accomplishing your task.
  5. Control – you feel you have a sense of control over your actions.

 

Finding Flow will help you be happier while the results of your work while you are in a state of Flow will help you be successful.

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

How to get Happy – 4 Concepts connected to Leadership and Success

Over the years I have had the opportunity to study leadership and success.   I am struck by the connections between each area and how those connections are similar for happiness as well.

 

Your first test on happiness:

  1. Do you want to:
    1. Receive happiness like winning the lottery or receiving a gift?
    2. Experience happiness as a state of mind?

If you choose A, then you may be waiting for a while, possibly forever.  However, if you choose B, then we, the team at Pursuit-of-Happiness.org, have a lot to share that may be helpful.

 

Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, explained that happiness is created through our daily intentional activities.  This is consistent with Leadership and Success as well.   Happiness is within our ability to control with what we do in our daily lives and how we think.

 

Here are 4 concepts that will provide a framework for exploring happiness.

The first concept is understanding the difference between Pleasure and Happiness.   Are you chasing immediate pleasures like sex, decadent foods, couch time, and video time, or are you nurturing relationships, maintaining your health through diet and exercise,  finding ways to improve yourself, and being thankful for what is working in your life.  The pursuit of pleasure involves feeling good in the short-term at the possible risk of negative long-term outcomes; the pursuit of happiness consists of intentional activities and habits that promote long term health and well-being.

 

 

The second concept is taking control of your life.   George Bernard Shaw although a little gruff, was headed in the right direction when he explained pursuing happiness as, “…being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. “  Do you own your decisions and the consequences of those decisions?  Are you deciding every day to invest in the habits and activities that will lead to happiness or are you waiting and hoping that happiness will find you?

 

The third concept is cultivating close positive relationships.  Do you have a few close friends you can talk to and share tell about your failures and successes? People who know and appreciate the real you, the good and the bad?  Are you caring and sharing in the community? Is there a person, group, or cause that you care for and give to?  The acts of sharing our true selves with others and caring for others are the most important things we can do to generate happiness and contentment in our lives.

 

The fourth concept is finding and expressing purpose and meaning.  The full George Bernard Shaw quote is:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

 

Do you have something bigger than yourself to focus on?  Is there something bigger that you believe in or something that you know you were meant to do?  For many people this can be expressed in their religion or other spiritual pursuits.  Others may focus on their children or their meaningful contributions.

 

In summary, if you are choosing to pursue happiness:

  1. Understand the difference between Pleasure and Happiness
  2. Take control of your life and your happiness.
  3. Develop close positive relationships and care for others.
  4. Find and express purpose and meaning in your life.

 

As described above for happiness, leadership and success require a long term perspective, action and ownership, strong relationships, and a sense of purpose.

 

Also like Leadership and Success, happiness is not a possession that can be acquired.   It is a state of mind resulting from the cultivation of intentional daily habits.    It has to be pursued, explored, and experienced on an on-going basis.   Find out more about how to cultivate Happiness Habits at Pursuit-of-Happiness.org.

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