Csikszentmihalyi, the psychologist who pioneered the theory of flow, explains that every flow experience contributes to the growth of the self.
After each episode, we’re a little different from what we were before. Our consciousness inputs fresh information about what our selves are.
This is not an insignificant victory. Any effort to chase down and expand the authentic self is valuable. Because it proves that we’re making progress in our journey to freedom.
I’m reminded of an award winning performance poet who tells the story of her childhood anorexia. The one verse that caught my attention was:
My house feels bigger each time I return.
It’s proportional. As the girl shrinks, the space around her seems increasingly vast.
That’s heartbreaking. Can you imagine having those kinds of feelings as a teenager? Can you imagine what it’s like to physically contract yourself into scarcity and tension? We sympathize with her struggle.
And yet, there is a certain beauty to her words, when considered in a more existential context. Because our duty as human beings is to grow the self at every opportunity.
To seek out as many experiences and moments of absorption, flow, engagement, fulfillment, timelessness and meaning as possible, trusting that our house, so to speak, will feel bigger each time we return.
This realization is wildly useful during the more mundane and time consuming activities of life. Because when we spend three hours of our day trekking around town in the freezing cold rain only to arrive at the office of a prospective client who has absolutely zero intention of hiring us for anything, our gut instinct is to chalk it up to a loss. A complete waste of time. Three hours that we’ll never get back.
But that all depends on the story we tell ourselves. When framed strategically, that three hour experience could contribute to the growth of the self.
That’s why I love asking myself the question:
Am I learning enough through this experience to consider it part of my education?
If the answer is yes, it’s not a loss, it’s simply an experience that makes our house feel bigger when we return.
Here’s a song I wrote about this very experience:
As long as we don’t cut ourselves off from the vital impulse for existential expansion, no experience is wasted.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you allow your consciousness to input fresh information about what the self is?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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