Pursuit of Happiness – Part 1

The Pursuit of Happiness – Part 1

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The Pursuit of Happiness
and the 10k Rule
(PART 1)

would like to bring a new slant to the 10k rule. This is based on the processes of what we now know about neurological development of a child, the mechanisms
of expertise and the concept of flow in the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience as proposed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Professor of Psychology, University of Chicago.
This post has important implications for:
1) Parenting
2) Lifetime achievement
3) The real basis for the 10k rule

As humans we all want to maximise our pleasure and happiness and minimise our pain. My hypothesis is that the pursuit of happiness could lead to a lifetime of achievement and a plausible reason to invest 10k hours in pursuing a discipline.
The parental role in guiding this process  in their offspring is crucial and essential as in our latest Olympic champion Joseph Schooling. Aristotle more than 2300 years ago wrote that “More than anything else men and women seek happiness”.

Despite our progress and achievements, people end up feeling their lives are wasted. Instead of feeling more happiness, more people in first world countries spend their lives experiencing boredom and anxiety. People who learn to control their inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives.

JS Mill, wrote “Ask yourself if you are happy and you cease to be so” You find “happiness” by being involved in experiencing every detail of your life good or bad. You find happiness not by trying to look for it directly.

Viktor Frankl, in his seminal book “Man’s search for meaning”, wrote. “Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success like happiness cannot be pursued, it must ensue…as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater then oneself”.

Optimal experience occurs at times when instead of being buffeted by anonymous forces you feel in control of your actions. You are master of your fate. That is when you feel exhilarated and experience a deep sense of enjoyment. It becomes a marker for what life should be like.

Consider the sailor when he is racing his little boat against the tide and he feels the thrill of the wind against his face and the exhilaration of his skill in controlling his destiny. Consider the enjoyment of a painter when he looks at what new art forms he has wrought on his canvas.

Optimal experience is not just reserved for pleasant things. It also occurs in concentration camps after surviving near death experiences At the epiphany of a beautiful sunset after you thought you were going to die but didn’t.

You get pleasure from passive, receptive relaxing times. However it is when you have pushed your body and mind in a voluntary effort to accomplish something worthwhile and difficult that you experience optimal experience. You can enhance your happiness through control over your life.

Everything in your life is basically information. If you control this information, you decide what your live will be like. Optimal state occurs when there is order in consciousness. When psychic energy is invested in realistic goals and skills match opportunities for action.

Flow is when consciousness is ordered and you go after whatever you want, to pursue it for its own sake. How people respond to stress determines whether they profit from misfortune or are miserable. Those who use that stressor to grow and learn will look back at that period in retrospect and enjoy those moments of triumph. Those who felt overwhelmed will experience the quality of their lives and their abilities shrink after the event.

To deal with obstacles, culture develops protective devices like religion, philosophies, arts and comforts. This has been your shield from chaos. However this shield is increasingly wearing thin in the face of rapidly changing social contexts. It is getting harder and harder for people to believe in a benign deity that orders the universe for your convenience.

Trying to achieve happiness without any sort of faith,  results in another extreme.  This is to maximise biologically programmed pleasures or those deemed attractive by society you live in. But your quality of life cannot be improved this way. Only direct control of experience, the ability to derive moment by moment experience in everything you do results in optimal experience according to the research by Professor Mihaly. Only as you successfully and purposefully overcome obstacles to fulfilment do you approach the basis for optimal experience.


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