This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was the perfect recipe to kick-start 2013
(after a month of posting nothing!)
I had good intentions…
But we all know where they lead you when there’s no actions to back them up!
December was chaotic.
In addition to the usual holiday madness, I had my older son finishing his last year of primary school.
After 7 years together (in Australia, kids start primary school when they are about 5 and complete a year of kindergarten followed by Years 1-6) my 12-yr-old son has now finished Year 6 and is off to high school where he will do Years 7-12!
School ended December 19th, however those last few weeks were in full party mode.
Surfing lessons, golf, tennis, camps, craft days, graduation ceremonies, concerts, dances and dinners were all arranged by the school.
My son and husband at his Year 6 graduation dinner/dance…
Then there were all the after school activities that the kids took to arranging for themselves on Skype and Instagram!
While the primary school was focused on sending their Year 6 kids off with a bunch of great memories, their respective high schools had their own orientation days and activities designed to welcome their new Year 7’s for 2013!
And all this was just with one child!
My younger son is starting primary school in 2013 so he had a series of orientation days of his own to attend and my daughter is undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh program which meant the last couple of weeks of school were spent getting organised for a kayaking/camping trip.
Visions of myself baking Buche de Noels, Gingerbread houses, Christmas themed cookies, cakes and cupcakes went out of the window.
This year, it felt like Christmas was eclipsed by… life.
I didn’t even try to fight it.
I just went with it.
The kids return to school January 30th and we usually go away for a couple of weeks at some point over this 6-week break, however this year we decided to stay in Sydney.
And days like the one in the pics below, reminded me of what an awesome place we live in!
My son went to his friend’s 5th birthday, kayaking around Manly harbour…
The kids headed out with their parents…
Then returned to cool down with a swim and a picnic lunch.
Today was a crazy 43 degrees celsius in Sydney.
But yesterday was the perfect pizza making day!
And so we kick start 2013 baking with Dorie and Julia!
We all love olives and goat’s cheese in our family, so this recipe was enjoyed by everyone.
I have been wanting to make this for a while and I love the mix of the sweet onions with the salty olives and cheese. I thought it was perfect!
The 4 hour drive from Launceston to Wineglass Bay on the east coast of Tasmania was long, slow and uneventful (except for the wars being waged in the back seat over, well… everything).
It was during this leg of our Tasmanian Christmas vacation that I had a moment of perfect clarity. An Oprah “aha” moment. It was perfect and fleeting. And I knew I had to grab it and flesh it out before it was drowned and lost forever in the singing and wailing coming from behind me.
Life was short and I was spending too much time on things and people that were not serving me. In fact, they were sucking the life right out of me!
This moment lasted seconds but it felt like existential enlightment flooding every inch of my being! It was a very physical experience, I didn’t just think it, I felt it! And for a few fleeting moments, everything made perfect sense!
I decided right there and then to be picky, really picky, with what I allowed to fill my mind!
I resolved to set my standards high and to do everything in my power to fill my mind with good stuff! Exciting, inspirational, “feel good” stuff!
I made an active choice to fill my mind with beauty and creativity.
I identified what dragged me down (and who) and was clear on what fueled me and always set me back on course.
So these days I spend a lot more time here…
And it never fails to shock that pants off me how clear I am when I leave this place! I walk away feeling strong, focused and clear on what and who is important.
The other thing that has kept me on track is this blog!
If I’m not immersed in putting together the latest post or cooking the latest Dorie recipe, I lose myself in the amazing blogs you guys have. Blogs that feel like a home. Blogs that are lovingly maintained and radiate warmth and personality. Blogs that I look forward to reading simply because they make me feel good.
And then something amazing happened!
These amazing people, whose blogs I admire, actually throw encouragement and acknowledgement my way and make me feel 10-feet tall!
As the plane descended into Launceston my husband, Emily (13 and jumping above) and
Todd (10) strained their necks to look out of the tiny plane window. They took in the the endless, rolling, green hills with a random farm house scattered here and there. They all turned to me and said in awed wonder “Where the hell did you take us?!’
“We flew over a town back there! Seriously!” I defended my choice of holiday destination.
They weren’t really complaining I realised, just slightly concerned and bewildered about about finding food and lodgings amongst so much emptiness!
After a short wait, we were told our rental car was going to be upgraded from a full size sedan to a full size sports model. And in no time at all my husband was loving the empty freeways that he could “play” on with his new toy!
Launceston was a short 15 minute drive from the airport and our accommodation, the Tamar Valley Resort, was another 10 or so minutes after that.
Seriously, this place is real! I was half expecting to see the Griswold’s kitted out in their Bavarian slap-dancing polka outfits strolling through the putt putt golf course!
Our two room lake-view cottage was picture perfect and newly refurbished (so we were happy to overlook the fact we weren’t on the lake along with the paper thin construction of dwelling until we froze our arses off the first night there).
However all was forgotten when the kids discovered the jumping pillow.
And putt putt golf, kayaks, paddle boats and trikes.
The Tamar Valley Resort was a bit out of the way however I think it’s part of being in Tasmania. There is a lot of empty space, as long as you have access to a car though, it’s really no issue as the roads are pretty good and empty!
Overall, a pretty good choice of accommodation for a family staying a few days in Launceston and a great start to our Tassie vacation!
The last few weeks have been emotionally and physically draining. My father had a heart attack that he was not expected to recover from. Luckily he has recovered and even though he has lost the use of his right leg, we are overjoyed with the progress he has made.
As we have progressed through the wards of the hospital, I have cut down my daily visits from 12 hour bedside vigils to a two to three hour visit. My days are very full and very tiring and as I drive to and from the hospital I find my mind drifting, questioning theories about grief. Running through exercises and passages I have read, asking myself what is useful and even possible when clients come in during times of stress. I have never wanted to be one of those psychologists that just talks at you, telling clients what they should be doing without making the effort to understand or respect what they are telling me. I have also never had the patience to be one of those therapists that sees clients endlessly, listening to them carry on about the same issue and not challenging them (may sound cold but there are clients who do just want to come in and have a bitch or a whinge without any interest or intention to change their lives!)
My dad’s heart attack meant I was now facing one of my biggest keeps you up at night fears.
Most of the time I felt I couldn’t breathe from the pain that seemed to crush my ribs and block my airways!
And then out of nowhere there were moments of perfect clarity that allowed me to step back and observe the process I was going through with objective interest.
Moments where I felt complete acceptance with the cycle of life and I knew that we would all be okay.
So here’s what I learnt from my dad’s heart attack…
1. All the stuff that books tell you doesn’t matter, really doesn’t!
Who cares about the gossip and who said what about who! You have no time or energy or interest in such rubbish! It was like a breath of fresh air. I had perspective and I wanted to make sure that I rememebered what really mattered and more importantly what didn’t matter for the rest of my life. I knew that at some point things would have to return to normal and I didn’t want to waste this experience.
2. You can choose how to respond.
I always felt that I would be one of those women you see on television, you know the one’s that wail, scream and try to throw themselves at the coffin. The thought of losing a family member has always filled me with such anxiety and despair that I never doubted that would be me! Recently I went to a friend’s father’s funeral and this friend of mine conducted herself with so much dignity that I took strength from her. Another friend’s 5 year old has been battling a brain tumor and again I witnessed a woman handle a terrible situation with incredible strength and grace.
I started to build other ways of being in my mind. Seeing these women helped me realise that you can choose how you conduct yourself no matter what is happening. I taught it, but I must confess I had my doubts, the pain with some clients at the loss of a loved one or the loss of a marriage is so intense and debilitating that you can easily be dragged into their worlds and feel as incapacitatingly helpless and hopeless as they feel. If you meet them all the way you will find it hard to see a way out yourself, if you don’t meet them at all, you will never really have an empathic understanding of what they are going through and will not be able to establish that necessary relationship and connection you need to be of use to them. So just like in counselling, in real life it’s finding that balance for yourself where you can grieve but you have the door open to the rest of your life and you can come and go freely.
3.You can only play victim for so long.
I find this hard to say without sounding insulting. I have clients who come in and spend so much time and energy waiting for the world to acknowledge the unfairness of their situation and then fix it. The world does acknowledge it, but then it expects you to move on. I felt surely everyone could see how much I was going through and I felt justified in my grief, until I returned to work and there was a stack of forms and files that needed addressing immediately. I had to work hard at not feeling resentful and sorry for myself! I have seen clients waste so much time and energy refusing the move on. Losing their jobs, their relationships as they cling desperately to the perceived unfairness and injustice of a situation. I’ve seen enough to know there comes a time when you need to accept and move on with your life. The alternative is truly terrifiying! Losing everything and everyone and then realising that it was all for nothing, carrying on will not take away the pain, it just creates more. Nothing will take away the pain, it’s about building a life around it.
What to do when you start to think that maybe this isn’t the right person for you…
Well kids, this is a topic I am very passionate about because I don’t want to see you in a therapist’s chair 50 or 60 years from now talking about how you wasted your life on someone who never loved you or treated you with respect.
Where is this coming from you might ask?
Many clients, family and friends who spent their lives waiting for the “love of their life” to change and become the man or woman they knew they had the potential to be!
So this advice may be hard to take and you will probably ignore it at first buy you will come back to it at some point. I just hope it’s sooner than later…
When you are considering getting married, moving in, having children or making any kind of committment with this person, I urge you to look at him or her. Look beyond their great looks! Look beyond their cool attitude and obvious intelligence! Look beyond the great hairstyle, tatts, piercings, car, money or whatever it is that has made you think this is the one!!!
Do you like him or her just as they are.
Now I know this might sound a bit simplistic and even stupid! But I have heard so many times the answer “no” and then followed by “but once they change they’ll make a great husband/wife!”
Don’t marry / stay with someone because you think they have potential!
Potential is something that could possibly happen, as opposed to what you’ve actually got there. See this person as they are. Not the person they could one day be once they kick that drug habit. The person they could be once they get a job. Or one of my favourites, the person you know they could be once they grow up and start acting more responsible! What makes you think they will grow up? And here’s one of the most cringe-worthy answers I get of all time… “once we have kids they’ll have to grow up and take responsibility.” No they won’t!
I know I sound incredibly cynical but consider the following scenarios…
1. When you met him, you knew he smoked pot but you just assumed he would stop one day because that’s what people do. You go on to buy a house, have kids however you can’t go on holidays because he can’t take his pot or whatever drugs there are without getting caught! He disappears into the shed for a while each day and when you ask him what he’s doing he gets angry at you for snooping or not giving him his space. At random times throughout your relationship you’ve discovered drug taking paraphanalia, but he has always said it’s someone else’s or it’s been there for years. He lays around and doesn’t help much or intereact much with you or the children. He gets passed over at work and you know he could achieve so much if he just applied himself and he promises he will, but he never does. Everyone else can see that he’s unreliable and stoned yet you believe him because you don’t want to see it.
2. You’ve been married for 40 or 50 years and one day he dies and finally you find all the evidence and confirmation you need that he had been cheating one you! You pretty much knew it while he was alive, actually he cheated on you while you were dating but you believed him when he said he wasn’t and anyway you weren’t married then and you thought once you were married it would all stop. Now you are left with anger, resentment and bitterness because finally you have all the proof you needed. But too late now.
3. When you met he was so exciting, playful, spontaneous. You thought he was the best thing and you couldn’t believe how lucky you were to have snagged him! You did everything for him! Cooked, ironed, payed his bills and you loved doing this because he needed you. People told you that you were being used but you just cut them out of your life because you thought they were just mean and jealous! Fast forward a few years or even decades and he is still loving life and having fun! You have become bitter and resentful because his playing meant someone had to be the adult and you are tired and exhausted. Finally you see what everyone else!
These are just a few scenarios. There are many, many more!
However I don’t want to lose sight of my point here.
Don’t ignore the niggling doubts, don’t bury you intuition that says there’s something not right here.
And my favourite, don’t ignore the feedback from family and friends!
They know this person better than you and they can see them in an objective light.
And if you think you will change him or her you are kidding yourself!
I say this because I have seen so many people stuck in relationships that suck the life right out of them!
People stay in these relationships hoping/waiting for their partner to change. To stop taking drugs, stop acting life a child and get a job, stop sleeping around. Because if they stop then everything would finally be okay!
If you stay in a relationship where you are cheated on, trespassed against, abused, taken advantage of, the consequences to you are not pretty. While you have invest all your time and efforts in this person you didn’t realised you had lost yourself in the process. You lose your self respect by behaving in ways that are beneath you. You lose your confidence and you lose your ability to trust yourself and others. It ain’t pretty when you have a person who is well into their 60’s crying about wasting their life on someone who never loved, respected or appreciated them.
I have seen so much anger, resentment, bitterness and pain it would be a damn shame to not take it on board and learn from it! I also think that if their experiences help another human being then it might ease their pain just a little bit to think that it was for something. It had some meaning.
As a parent, first and foremost I want to protect my children.
My instincts are to protect them from any harm that may come their way. So while I understand the following concept intellectually, I really struggle implementing it.
Depression has been on the rise since the late 1950’s, it is not only increasing, the victims are getting younger and younger.
Dr Martin Seligman claims that “our society has changed from an achieving society to a feel-good society. Up until the early 1960’s, achievement was the most important goal to instill in our children. This goal was then overtaken by the twin goals of happiness and high self-esteem.”
The focus today is very much about feeling good, I know how intense the urge to rush in and protect my children from any negative feelings is. The argument however is that negative feeelings are there for a reason. They carry messages about how we are fairing in life and galvanise us into action when things are going wrong by making it very hard to ignore the pain and discomfort they inflict upon us.
Another thing to consider is the concept of “flow” that I wrote about in an earlier post by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Being in flow is when you lose yourself in what you are doing. It’s when the best of your abilities are matched with the challenge before you. If the challenge is to easy, then you get bored, however if it is too hard you feel hopeless and want to give up. Flow is about feeling challenged and frustrated as you try to achieve your goals. It is about failing and trying again. Seligman says, “rewards alone, high self-esteem, confidence and ebullience do not produce flow… A life without anxiety, frustration, competition and challenge is not the good life; it is a life devoid of flow.” When we consider that research indicates flow is what makes us happy and gives our lives meaning, we can then can grasp the importance of negative feelings in our overall happiness.
The last point I want to make is about how bad feelings can be used to stop us from feeling helpless and depressed. Feeling helpless, feeling immobilised, feeling like nothing you do will make any difference, is how many of my clients who are depressed feel. When we protect our children from failure, from feeling sad, anxious, or angry, we deprive them from learning persistence. When we are faced with a problem, we can try to change how we approach the problem until we find a way that works. Or we can give up. If we protect our children from feeling bad and failing, then we are teaching them to give up, we are depriving them of the skills to perservere when the going gets tough. We are teaching them to avoid anything that feels bad, making it difficult in the long term for them to experience flow in their lives. When they come up against any difficulties, or negative feelings, they may easily give up, placing them at high risk for developing depression.
My own goal is to try very hard to resist the urge to jump in and “rescue” my children from anything and everything. This includes too much homework, a mean comment by a friend, being overlooked for an activity, etc. Yes, I know I sound a bit nutty but I can’t help it! I want to “fix” it so they don’t feel bad. However the prospect of creating helplessness and depression is sobering enough to make me stop and think. I want to help them build resilience and resources to cope with life. Bailing them out will make me feel good, but it won’t be doing them any favours!
We have studied depression in depth for the last century and we know a lot about what makes us miserable!
Most of have felt depressed at some point in life. We feel down, we don’t really care about much, we have no energy and for a while, life feels unpleasant. But we know we will get through it.
Some people however have more frequent episodes of feeling down and the duration and intensity of these episodes can be used as guides to unresolved psychological problems. Depression is way for the body to communicae to us that there is something wrong. When I talk to my clients about depression I get them to think of it as a continuum rather than a question of “Am I depressed or not?” On one end of the continuum is the mild to moderate range where the experience is painful and uncomfortable. While on the other end we have Bipolar or Manic Depression which is more biological in nature.
Our goal is to treat the problems that the clients present with, to get the levels of depression and anxiety to nil, zero. But people want more than just feeling not depressed, they want to have meaning and happiness in their lives.
This recognition led to a new branch of psychology called Positive Psychology. It is interested in the “scientific study of optimal human functioning.” So the goals is no longer to just identify and treat mental health problems, but also to teach people how to enhance the quality of their lives using substantiated research and findings that have been proven to deliver results.
I like to think of happiness also having a continuum where the more frequency, intensity and duration of symptoms is symbolic of being further along the continuum and feeling happier!
Martin Seligman, on of the founders of Positive Psychology defines happiness as “both positive feelings (such as ecstasy and comfort) and positive activities that have no feeling component at all (such as absorption and engagement)”.
Mihaly Csiskzentmihalyi claims the way to happiness is through “flow”, a state where we are so engrossed in “some activity that time either lengthens or disappears, we no longer notice our surroundings except as related to the activity and any problem or discomfort drops entirely out of mind”.
I used to think “I’ll be happy when…”
I struggled (for a long time!) with the idea that happiness was a choice avalaible to me at any point. I believed that happiness was the end goal, the reward for hard work and suffering!. I remember thinking “if I just went around all day feeling happy I’d never do anything again!” I got really stuck here. I felt accessing happiness just for the sake of it was cheating and fake.
Then one day it dawned on me. When you are happy you are more likely to achieve your goals and succeed! When I feel happy I am excited and energised. I feel at peace and I find it easier to get absorbed in whatever I am doing. I can appreciate my self and my surroundings more. I have increased clarity in thought and inspiration. Feeling happy actually helps me to produce a higher quality of work.
So rather than asking “Am I happy or not?” ask yourself “How can I be happier?” This changes the nature of happiness from something that is the end result to happiness being an ongoing process. Something that is infinite in nature and within your control.
Can you think of something you really want?
Imagine you have it.
A new house, a new car, a new body? Whatever you think will make you feel happy. Now imagine yourself going through the day having this something you treasure. How will you feel about yourself, how will this effect the interactions you have with the world. Will you feel more confident, assured?
When you have really stepped into the role and can feel this I want you to consider that you just had acces to all those feelings all on your own. They are there, available to you at any moment!
When you’re happy, nothing has actually changed yet everything suddenly seems different.
Do you sometimes feel like everyone grew up and worked out how to behave like an adult and you got left behind?
Why is it that some people radiate confidence, assurance, elegance while others gossip, bitch, and are just plain old nasty! And then there’s the fearful, anxious group that try really hard to please everyone in an effort to avoid being rejected and end up with no sense of self (this is ringing bells with me!)
Have you noticed some women have an aura of peace and security around them while others are desperate to please and can’t call their kid’s teachers by their first names?!
I’m only bringing this up because sometimes I swear I missed the boat on how to grow up and behave like an adult! I guess like everything else in life, there are pros and cons to this as well.
Maintaining a child like interest and joy in the day-to-day things is necessary. Especially if you’re a parent (my husband is one of four boys and he can play and be more childish than the kids, I envy his ability to do that and the kids love it!)
However I’m raising this issue to get to the not so nice bits about being stuck in teenage mode at 40!
Sometimes we feel we are not fitting in with the other mothers at our children’s school or with our peers at work. Instead of isolating yourself and feeling there is something wrong with you I want to encourage you to see yourself like a car’s gear box (I led into that smoothly huh?) What I mean is that we can’t expect to put our lives into D for Drive and sail through life smoothly. I know it sux but it just doesn’t work like that.
Do you find yourself babbling like a fool when you talk to certain people? Or do you find some situations fill you with dread and fear (situations that others may find fun and appealing).
Well, if you can imagine your life like a gear box, just like the gear box has different speeds it can be moved to, we have many different parts to our personality that we put into gear.
Two very common parts are the inner child and the inner critic. The inner child can feel scared when faced by the bully mother in the playground while the inner critic (you know that voice that tells you nothing you do is good enough and whatever you are doing is wrong!) is always looking for people who are not good for you and actually make you feel like a loser!
Now there would be no probs if our inner gear box was nicely greased and could sense which people and situations called for which qualities. For example, it would be great to be able to turn to your inner child when it is time to be playful and silly. It would be fabulous to hear when your inner critic is just not helping you, like when you are driving in the wrong gear and can hear the car straining! Unfortunately not many of us are built that finely tuned!
But imagine if we were?!
I’ve come to believe that the better we get at switching through the gears of our personalities and knowing which parts of life call for which qualities, the closer we get to behaving like adults.
We all have the adult inside of us, you know that side that knows what is right and good for us. The side we choose to ignore as we relish feeling sorry for ourselves. The side we ignore as we suck up to someone we don’t like because we are too scared to contemplate cutting them out of our lives. The side we bury as we convince ourselves we are absolute and utter failures! But that side is there.
I encourage you to join me in identifying when this adult side raises its head in your life and pay attention to how it feels. You mind feels clear, your chest and shoulders are relaxed, your breathing comes easier. The adult in you is there all the time. Mine gets buried easily by the other two qualities because they are more dominant, stronger and emotional. In other words, I interact with the world way more from those gears than the adult gear!
It’s just as important to get to know your inner child, how does it feel when you are being playful and silly. Recognise when you inner child is serving you and when it’s not. When does it get scared or the brat comes out?
I can now recognise that when I am dealing with some of the playground bullies (the mum’s I’m referring to!) I feel anxious, my breathing gets faster and my body becomes tense. I become a child, eager to please so they like me and don’t target me or my children! Now that I can recognise this, I am more aware of how I am interacting with these people and work at choosing to switch gears and slip into adult mode.
Same goes for the inner critic. I have another bunch of friends that make me feel like an awkward, silly, giggly klutz whenever I am with them! My inner critic screams “they are so much better than you!” and as a result I interact with them like a nerdy teen trying hard to get in with the cool girls! Sounds sad, I know, but I need to be aware of what my triggers are and which parts of my personality they engage so I can put an end to this cycle. I can honestly say I had myself convinced I was not made to mix with people and I was considering a move to the wilderness. I was convinced I could not be around people and still feel good about myself!
My family can breathe a sigh of relief now that I understand things a bit better and I will not be moving them to a bush station in the Australian outback where the only school options would be radio school!
So being aware of which gear we shift into as we interact with the world and make decision is an amazing tool to have. Once you can see yourself interacting from child mode or critic mode, imagine how it would feel if you faced the same people and situations with your gear firmly in adult mode? When I face the mummy bullies I can be polite without becoming a simpering sycophant! When I am with my assured, confident friends I no longer feel I need to run and hide out of fear of blurting out something stupid! I switch into my adult gear and I can face them head on! Confident, assured and calm!
Hope all this makes sense! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.
Have you given any thought to what gets in the way of your own happiness?
A major constraint on us enjoying what we are doing has always been our fear of how we appear to others and what these others are thinking about us.
We spend so much time worrying about whether we are doing enough for our children, our community and everyone else that our lives become nothing more than a response to what is happening around us. When we stop living consciously we let our environment dictate how we spend our time. We drive our kids to way too many activities spending more time in the car than together at home. We spend a ridiculous amount of energy worrying about the mum who is the school bully of the parents (you know who they are!) We try to please everyone around us and in the process lose ourselves to the point where we don’t have an opinion on anything, even what we want for dinner!
When we live life “as a chaotic response to external events” we begin to fall apart. We become anxious, depressed, exhausted and numb. We just keep going, we keep doing what we have always done if it’s no longer working for us because we don’t know how to do things differently.
Sounds crazy but it’s true! It amazes how many of my clients look absolutely confused when I ask them what they enjoy, what they like doing. They have spent so much time doing what is expected of them, they have no idea what they like. They want me to tell them what this could be!
I think one of the challenges people face is they believe that fame and wealth is where happiness lies. Csikszentmihalyi found people did not know what to do to be happy in life. research showed that people were unhappy doing nothing and were happy doing things, they just didn’t know what things they were happy doing.
Here’s the catch, it’s important to differentiate between pleasure, which we get from eating, sex, gossip with enjoyment. Pleasure feels good but it lacks a sense of achievement where enjoyment leaves us feeling good about ourselves. I think this is how we answer questions such as ‘how do I find myself?’ and how do I find my sense of self. It’s about paying attention to what activities put us in ‘flow’.
Here is how Csikszentmihalyi defines what it feels like to be in ‘the flow’
Completely involved, focused, concentrating.
Sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality.
Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going.
Knowing the activity is doable – that your skills are adequate so you’re not anxious or bored.
Sense of serenity – no worries about self, feeling of growth beyond the boundaries of ego (ie worrying what others are thinking and saying about you).
Timeliness – thoroughly focused on present, don’t notice time passing.
intrinsic motivation – whatever produces ‘flow’ becomes its reward.
I urge you to pay attention what activities create this state in your lives. I get immersed and excited in planning to cook an intricate and complex recipe. I get lost in the process and the sense of achievement I feel as my family eats it leaves me on a high for days afterwards. There is no fame or financial rewards but it makes me happy. Ask yourself are you after happiness or fame and fortune?
Following are great charts that Csikszentmihalyi has drawn to demonstrate how his theory works. I think they are really worth having a look over if you are looking to bring more happiness into your everyday life.
As you can see when you are engaged in activities that are not challenging and not using your skills you can begin to feel numb and empty however if you try to do something that is difficult and you do not possess the skills to do it, it will leave you feeling anxious. The optimal state is to use your particular skills to do something challenging, something that is achievable.
This graph is a summary of how people feel when different skill levels are combined with different challenges.
This last graph is a focus on everyday life and how people spend their leisure time.
So the question is not what gives you pleasure and is easy to do, but what can you do to spend more of your time on activities that are more satisfying rather than brain numbing ones like watching television? And before you think you have no talents or abilities let me stop you there, there is no correlation between intelligence and ‘flow’. Different activities will get people in the ‘flow’ zone, we just need to find what our particular activities are.
Remember to pay attention without judging “where will this get me?” or “what’s the use of that?” Pull your attention away from how the external world will judge what you enjoy and focus it on what gets you into the ‘flow’. This is how you find yourself. This is how you get your sense of self, your sense of who you are. When you can do this, you will find your purpose and your meaning in life.