In this 2004 TED Talk, Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi asks, What makes a life worth living?
Ecstasy in Greek simply meant standing to the side of something.
Then it became essentially the analogy for a mental state where you feel that you are not doing your ordinary everyday routines.
So ecstasy is essentially stepping into an alternative reality, he says.
One observation he draws out is that when we think about ancient civilizations that were at their pinnacle like the Mayans, the Greeks, etc. what we know about them is not their everyday lives.
We know the temples they built to experience a different reality, the circuses, the arenas, the theaters… these are the remains of civilizations and the places people went to experience life in a more concentrated, more ordered form.
This part of the talk resonated with me because it ties in with what Umberco Eco said recently that “the list is the origin of culture". An attempt to create order out of reality, and also a mechanism to put structure around achieving aspirations.
Noting that money cannot make us happy, Czikszentmihalyi looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of "flow."
When you're involved in the completely engaging process of creating something new, you don't have enough attention left to worry about other stuff. Existence is temporarily suspended.
Czikszentmihalyi says that creation at that level happens after 10 years, the 10,000 hours of practice.
You get to flow from mastery and the presence of passion for the challenges you're tackling.
In his work, Csikszentmihalyi contrasts pleasure with enjoyment. He says pleasure feels good, but it's conservative, and leads to status quo.
While enjoyment is like happiness in action, leading to greater skills. Enjoyment leads to a "triumph over the forces of entropy" and is like building psychological capital.
We're living in times where both great arousal and the ability to control how we create are plentiful.
We can make a difference.
You do make a difference.
My two words for 2012: Bridging dis-connects
By helping businesses do one or all of the following:
- convert prospects to buyers with digital, move buyers to customers with social, and build brands as an ever greater asset by delivering on promises — laser sharp focus and creative connection goes to attention
- empower internal teams do more by removing obstacles in communication for better collaboration, filling gaps in socializing knowledge for velocity and effectiveness selling and doing ideas, and building confidence in individual performance for greater capacity — speaking clearly and acting appropriately goes to performance
What are your two words for 2012?