Thursday, April 5, 2007

Life, liberty...but the other pursuit continues to elude us

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his highly engaging book Flow comes to a powerful conclusion. While it is a part of human nature to seek happiness, the reason why we are no closer to attaining it than Aristotle was in his day is that we are looking for it in the wrong place.

His basic thesis is that happiness is an inner-engineered not externally dependent experience. Success depends on the control of consciousness - not the variety of circumstances in the external, physical world.

It is precisely why people are able to reach the state of happiness despite being in situations in which outer conditions are - objectively speaking - difficult or threatening. He gives accounts from interviews with people from third world countries as well as incarcerated in concentration camps, in which remarkably some individuals described moments of serenity and deep inner calm, peace and more than well-being, profound happiness.

A casual stroll through that list of adjectives brings to OFD's mind one activity in particular: yoga. It is the act of yoking mind and body, but most importantly its intrinsic value is in bringing control and order to consciousness, to clear and focus the mind, the inner reality.

It leads us to a hypothesis which we shall venture out to explore. Whether people who participate in yoga regularly are any closer to happiness than other people.

That sound was the tent being unzipped. We're stepped forth into the wilderness, clip boards and interviewing questions at hand and ready to explore the realm of happiness amidst the populous.

We shall report back.

1 comment:

kyle said...

I came in 2nd in my 4th grade spelling contest because i omitted the second "s" in Csikszentmihalyi.

The other kid won the event when she nailed the surname Chandramouleeswaran.

Clearly the fix was in.