It can be easy to get caught up in the belief that once we achieve something, like wealth, a certain body shape, the career of our dreams, the partner we’ve been looking for, that then we will finally be happy.
It’s easy to get lost in this story because our modern day world is built on consumerism which intends for us to believe exactly this.
If we believe we will be happy when we get something, we will keep buying things that we think may get us there. And when of course we don’t get more than the fleeting happiness that things can provide, we usually then seek to find happiness or escape by buying even more things.
It’s a cycle we can choose to stay captive to, or one we can break out of by becoming aware of what really brings happiness and focusing your attention on this instead.
What Happiness Really Is
Happiness isn’t a destination we someday arrive at when we have something or achieve something, although both of these can bring some temporary happiness.
Rather, it’s a state we choose to experience in each moment. Happiness is a choice, not a result.
Sometimes it can be easy to make this choice because of external factors. Like when you’re enjoying the first warm sun on your face after a long, cold winter. Or when your loved one gives you a thoughtful and meaningful compliment.
Other times it can be very challenging. Imagine the times when you have experienced a lot of grief and trauma. Happiness does not come easily, nor is the intention to choose to be happy when you are really not and may need time to be sad and grieve.
Fortunately, for most of us, we are not experiencing grief and trauma every day of our lives, so there are plenty of easier opportunities to tap into living a happier life, without relying on external factors to dictate what that should look like and when that should be.
One of the most powerful and enjoyable ways we can do this, to essentially live with more happiness, is to access a state of flow.
What Is Flow?
“Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.” (Source)
In Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s book “Flow,” he shares that we are at our happiest when we create an internal state of flow, where we are so immersed in a goal or task that we must be present.
A level of challenge is required to be in this state of presence or flow, and we must be in some form of action, whether it be sensory or physical, for example, writing, working on equations, speaking a new language, cooking, rock climbing, dancing, creating music, art, idea generation, teaching, etc.
As Csíkszentmihályi shares, the periods of time where we are struggling to overcome challenges are when we experience the most enjoyment in our lives.
Think about when you have been in a state of flow. You were very likely to have been present, your senses heightened, life felt richer, explorative, exciting, and a little uncertain because of the challenge.
The key to developing greater happiness and flow in your life ongoing is to bring more presence and flow into all areas of your life, including the jobs and chores.
I encourage you to consider the times you have felt you were in flow and write them down for yourself in the comments below. What did you experience or feel during these times? Share and like if you dig this post.