1. Competition / Flow
2. Being a servant
4. Novel experiences
7. Place in the universe
8. Friends and family
9. Physical comfort
10. The arts
Internally, happiness is a matter all its own.
In his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argues the same case argued by Malcolm Gladwell in his pop-psych masterpiece, Blink. The concept is the assumption that when someone is focused in on what they are doing, in the moment, then the outside world becomes tertiary, and thus cognitive allocation will give its full due force to the project at hand.
Living in the moment. Focusing on right now. Concentrating on what you are doing. This is the way the mind becomes right, and through this proper allocation of attention, our conscious minds can achieve a state called “flow.”
You may have experienced flow before. If you’ve ever been acutely focused in on an activity (and doing extremely well at it) then you’ve been in a state of flow. Dirk Nowitzki, NBA superstar, felt it during the Maverick’s 2011 title run. Phillip Humber, starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, felt it during his perfect game just last week. John Milton, blind muse from the 1600’s, likely felt it during the construction of his masterpiece of prose Paradise Lost. Albert Einstein felt it while writing General Theory of Relativity, and even went as far to postulate that he has, “never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves...”
Flow is the highest state of operation the mind can achieve. It is the definitive state of being un-destractable, of being able to completely block out the world and focus in on exactly what is happening in the moment. It is the present moment, the slice of time that one is in, that is the most critical part of your life, because it is the only slice that one can do anything about. The past is set, (barring time-travel), the future is merely a culmination of the decisions you and the rest of the conscious population, influenced as well by natural events, come together to make right now. Now is the most important part of your existence. Now is reality, set in motion by the physics and governing laws of the cosmos which directs the flow of the universe, and through that flow we must continually challenge ourselves, moment to moment to become a better version of yourself than you were in the moment before.
Focusing on the moment is the first step.
Recognizing your role as a servant is the other.
No matter your lot in life, whether you are a working at McDonald’s or the president of the United States, your role in life is as a servant. Our best leaders are the ones who do not quest after power, but rather are called to it by others, and those who choose to serve recognize that they are servants of others, that the very best of what it means to be human is to serve your fellow man.
We are very lucky here in America. Our great country came into existence through the ideas of the most legendary thinkers of our time. Our framers recognized that not only are our governmental powers, held in the constitution, an extension of our roles as public servants through free elections, but that the dark heart of man lurks. There are those of us who actively search for power, for the sake of power, and that through the unhappiness in their hearts they desire to remake the world in their vision. Our framers recognized this propensity and put significant road blocks in place to prevent this type of person being able to wield too much power if it ever came to be that they came to power. The darkest of us seeks power, while the best of us seeks to
No matter what paths your life has traveled, you can always seek to serve your fellow man, and through that servitude you will know joy. Help someone. Teach someone. Praise someone. This is the pursuit of happiness.
Pursuit of Happiness
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