Flow, The Secret to Happiness?




"So my research has been focused more on -- after finding out these things that actually corresponded to my own experience, I tried to understand: 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.
5:29
This was one of the leading composers of American music back in the '70s. And the interview was 40 pages long. But this little excerpt is a very good summary of what he was saying during the interview. And it describes how he feels when composing is going well. And he says by describing it as an ecstatic state.
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[O]ur nervous system is incapable of processing more than about 110 bits of information per second. And in order to hear me and understand what I'm saying, you need to process about 60 bits per second. That's why you can't hear more than two people. You can't understand more than two people talking to you.
8:44
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, because he doesn't have enough attention, like none of us do, to really do well something that requires a lot of concentration, and at the same time to feel that he exists. So existence is temporarily suspended. And he says that his hand seems to be moving by itself. Now, I could look at my hand for two weeks, and I wouldn't feel any awe or wonder, because I can't compose."

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