Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be some woo-woo post about self-empowerment. I certainly don’t know any secrets to having everything awesome all the time. Recently our family has been through some trying times. Like, really trying. Like natural disasters. Like family dying. I’ve been bemoaning 2013 since the week we returned from Oregon. In the midst of all the chaos, I am trying to create order. Trying to make sense of it all, because that is what humans do.
In the process of trying to make sense of it all, I started thinking about THE HAPPY SHOW. This project by designers Sagmeister & Walsh assembles a lot of scientific data about Happiness. I saw Stefan Sagmeister speak about happiness back in January at Alt Summit, and my main take away was, a portion of our happiness was totally in our control. You have a responsibility to yourself to find the things that give you happiness and pursue them.
So, what kind of things contribute to happiness?
The documentary, “HAPPY” (which is on Netflix!) presents the idea that happiness, is at least 50% genetic. That means that half of your overall happiness is totally out of your control and is the result of the happenstance of genetics . Then 40% of your happiness is attributed to your intentional activities. The relationships you cultivate, your efforts to be part of something meaningful, and your efforts to pursue personal growth. I think this means, your friends, your community, and your art. By art, I mean, whatever you do that gives you FLOW. There is a book they mention in this movie that Tim read a long time ago all about that feeling you get when things are connecting for you. (More on flow in a minute!) Then the last 10% has to do with your money, housing, clothes, and other ephemeral things. They’ve discovered that once your basic needs are met, your level of happiness is about the same as a person with millions of dollars. So, it’s really true that money can’t buy happiness. GOOD TO KNOW.
Back to 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.” (via Wikipedia)
I get flow when I paint. Sometimes when I design, sometimes when I’m cooking, and sometimes when I’m singing or dancing. I haven’t been getting very much flow lately. I have been designing (which I love) but it’s been so hectic, I haven’t had much of that energized focus going on. I feel a little stunted at the moment. The stress, the work, and my survival have been at the front of my mind, and I haven’t been putting much toward my intentional activities either. Worry & stress hog up a lot of space and doesn’t leave much room for seeking happiness. Guilt about happiness hogs up space too. With so many people close to me suffering, do I deserve to feel happiness? Shouldn’t I be miserable in solidarity?
Well, the answers to these questions certainly aren’t easy. If it’s possible to be happy in the midst of tragedy and stress, then I have a duty to pursue that. I have to try to find a way to shift my intentional activity from working too much & feeling sad about our struggles, to finding some flow, connecting with my people, and trying to do something that will benefit my family.
Here’s to NOT working this weekend, (since all that money won’t make me happier) and trying my best to find some flow in the midst of the chaos. I hope you find some flow too. If you do, please come tell me about it.
Thanks for reading,