We humans are cyclical beings. We live and die, wake up and go to sleep, eat and defecate, say hello and goodbye, etc. We constantly look for patterns and think in terms of “starts and finishes.” So, when we are very young and are first confronted with the concept that our life had a beginning, and therefore must end, a search for meaning must ensue.
But meaning is completely subjective. How can you tell me what blue looks like to you? We merely have come to a consensus that it looks something like the sky and water. Is my blue the same as your blue?
If we think in terms of cycles, then something becomes boring to us once we personally decide that it no longer has meaning to us.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (great psychologist, thinker, and the most copy-pasted name on the internet) has written books about his concept of Flow, which is the complete involvement and enjoyment of a task. It differs from pleasure in that it provides us with lasting appeal, whereas pleasure is short lived. In flow, there are three major components:
1. Rules: They must be present for Flow to be achieved
2. A balance between Challenge and Skill: Too hard and people wont even try, too easy and they will give up.
3. Goals and feedback: We have to know that we are accomplishing something in order to feel enough motivation to continue with that task. And the only way we will know we are accomplishing something is if we get feedback when we do it.
THE TAKEAWAY: Life is meant to Flow. Find a purpose that allows for as much intellectual expansion and personal growth as you desire, set goals, receive feedback, and follow the rules of that pursuit. In the case of life: Keep living and be happy. =)
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on Flow (sujenman.wordpress.com)
- What makes a good life? (umbrellahealth.wordpress.com)
- Philosophical Reflections on Flow Theory (charlesbonaventure.wordpress.com)
- Positive Psychology News Daily ” To Surf or Not to Surf? (positivepsychologynews.com)
- Cultivating Your Passions (psychcentral.com)
- Part 3: The pursuit of happiness (dimpledbrain.com)