25 May 2009


This man was once a ball of rage and anxiety but is now a blissed-out zen-like character, cruising through the kinks. Why? I'm not sure.

The other day I was looking hard for the meaning of life. I just wasn't content with my morning coffee, kiss the wife and child goodbye, in the office by 8am, lusting after material goods on the internet, lunch at noon, home, Simpsons, shower and bed. So, I thought I'd try to find the meaning of life. It was pretty difficult and I thought I'd get bored of it by the next day but I didn't. It was and is still troubling me.

Jesus didn't answer my call, Enlightenment is still way beyond my grasp (perhaps I should stop grasping?), I see kids killing themselves slowly everyday and a mother tries to drown her two children under the Sellwood Bridge. I still needed some unifying theory of what we should be working towards.

So I started dwelling on what does make sense. Moments in time, when you know you are doing the right thing at the right time. You're not concerned about what was, and what will be. You have no desires, no regrets, no confusion and no anxiety. You're flowing. You're "jamming econo" (sorry, still coming down from the Watt gig).

'The flow' can happen any time. Whether its when surfing, writing a poem, negotiating a social situation, solving a mathematical problem, a spiritual awakening or cooking a meal. The simple explanation is, the human mind is at its most content when it is fully immersed in an activity that combines the perfect balance of challenge, stimulation and effortlessness.

Today my friend Justin, reminded me of the Hungarian Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, who has spent much of his career, explaining what most people probably already intrinsically know (even if they don't articulate it) about 'Flow.'

Here are the nine components of Flow that he came up with (not all required for one to flow):

1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one's skill set and abilities).
2. Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
4. Distorted sense of time, one's subjective experience of time is altered.
5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
9. People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.

If you have something in your life, where you get to experience flow from time to time, you are probably doing OK. If you feel a wider obligation to the planet and/ or its inhabitants, you might want to share the ride.

I am not saying that Flow is the meaning of life but it just might help you work through all the other shit.

Me, I'm just trying to link a few Currenesque turns.