So my research has been focused more on — (…): where — in everyday life, in our normal experience — do we feel really happy? And to start those studies about 40 years ago, I began to look at creative people — first artists and scientists, and so forth — trying to understand what made them feel that it was worth essentially spending their life doing things for which many of them didn’t expect either fame or fortune, but which made their life meaningful and worth doing.
“Ecstasy” in Greek meant simply to stand to the side of something. (…)So ecstasy is essentially a stepping into an alternative reality. And it’s interesting, if you think about it, how, when we think about the civilizations that we look up to as having been pinnacles of human achievement — whether it’s China, Greece, the Hindu civilization, or the Mayas, or Egyptians — what we know about them is really about their ecstasies, not about their everyday life. We know the temples they built, where people could come to experience a different reality.
Now, this man doesn’t need to go to a place like this, which is also — this place, this arena, which is builtlike a Greek amphitheatre, is a place for ecstasy also. We are participating in a reality that is different from that of the everyday life that we’re used to. But this man doesn’t need to go there. He needs just a piece of paper where he can put down little marks, and as he does that, he can imagine sounds that had not existed before in that particular combination.
Well, when you are really involved in this completely engaging process of creating something new, as this man is, he doesn’t have enough attention left over to monitor how his body feels, or his problems at home. He can’t feel even that he’s hungry or tired. His body disappears, his identity disappears from his consciousness (…)
Now, when we do studies — we have, with other colleagues around the world, done over 8,000 interviews of people — from Dominican monks, to blind nuns, to Himalayan climbers, to Navajo shepherds — who enjoy their work. And regardless of the culture, regardless of education or whatever, there are these seven conditions that seem to be there when a person is in flow. There’s this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears, you forget yourself, you feel part of something larger.And once the conditions are present, what you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake.
Watch the video below where Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi wonders and tries to find out through an extensive research ‘What makes a life worth living?’
More contribution on the quest to find happiness here.