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The Source of Flow & The Battle of the Bottleneck

Somewhere in Guatemala

Somewhere in Guatemala - Yanuary Navarro

To protect one source of profound happiness, you need to know how your brain creates it. A brain surgeon explains.

As humans, we seem to be on an endless quest to rid ourselves of a conscious awareness of our selves, our egos, and their constant internal chatter that separates us from the immediacy of experience. Whether it is the discipline of zazen meditation, the transcendence of the whirling dervish, or the clash of football teams, we are drawn to states of mind that allow us to lose our self-awareness. Usually, we have gone to great pains to acquire the skills and knowledge to induce these states, and they emerge from activities about which we feel passionate. In the 1970s, the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, now at the Claremont Graduate University, began to explore and map these experiences in detail. He gave them the name flow. Surprisingly, Csikszentmihalyi found that flow states are nearly three times as likely to occur at work as during our leisure time. In fact, leisure pursuits, such as watching TV or lounging at the beach, are unlikely to give rise to flow. Most of us, on average, score ourselves less happy or motivated in our workplace and yearn for more free time, but it is work and …

Allan J. Hamilton MD

Allan Hamilton MD knows how brains work, in part, because he has drilled into thousands of them. A Harvard-trained brain surgeon, he’s also medical consultant to ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and author of books including The Scalpel and the Soul and Zen Mind, Zen Horse. He’s now at work on a big book about the brain, and has shared a slice about how to protect that source of profound happiness called flow. Allanhamilton.com


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