We have spoken about our positions of mastery, seeking proficiency, and how to look to achieve a greatness within our functional capacity. The rubber hits the road so to speak when we examine the colloquial expression in the zone. That zone being a zone of optimal performance, according to constructs of positive psychology. For athletes, or high-level performers the zone is a critical area of examination as a conscious awareness beyond the external boundaries of extrinsic influencers.
Introspection is a method for self-examination that is believed to be a positive practice for self-efficacy (a strong belief in one’s own skill capacity to perform a specific function or task). The practice of finding personal dispositional flow results when the purpose for achievement, in this case or example we are talking about individual happiness, becomes autotelic, or intrinsically motivating – meaning the desire to keep doing what it is taking place that has you in that zone of optimal dispositional flow is greater than anything else at the time. Time, or timing of the personal specificity for dispositional flow and discovery of autotelic tendencies or traits is subjective to the individual. The scope of this discussion is introductory, as much of a blog post should be. Advanced learning on the subjects mentioned should be examined with more depth by a person seeking to understand the basics of this introduction.
Rumination differs from introspection by the connotations associated with the practiced. Rumination is when a person self-examines themselves from a subconscious lens and conscious perspective of what is wrong, and why is this or that sensation, environment or person, making me so unhappy. The idea is to understand how an autotelic personality development will secure a methodology of positive psychology that places your introspection in a positive lens, one that seeks to examine what felt good, and why. The purpose of the action or feeling is the goal, doing something for the sake of doing it when it provides cognitive and /or emotional benefits is an important schema to build. Have you ever taken a nice bath, walk on the beach, sat with a person and talked, and just felt so alive that you did not want the moment to end? That is it! That is the zone of optimal development when we consider happiness as the measure. 19th Century Philosopher and Business man John Stuart Mill said:
“One person with a firm belief is worth more than ninety-nine others with a mere interest”
“Asking yourself if you are happy will only lead you to more thoughts of unhappiness”
The indication being that believing in what you are doing is the path to happiness, far greater than measuring what you have or do not have – good goals help us seek what we want, but we must also inquire of ourselves if what we want is useful to our dispositional flow. Mihal Csikszentmihalyi, one of the co-founders of modern-day positive psychology practices, postulated that effort to control external forces or environments is not the path to happiness. The purpose of the choice, the behavior, or the disposition of the individual is the more critical element of consideration. Inner harmony comes from participation and collaboration with the influences that make a person satisfied just by the act of completion for the task or event. Once you learn the influences of happiness, and the personal identification with the dispositional flow and individual zone of achievement, you may develop activities and environments conducive to that end.
According to Csikszentmihalyi, the following eight characteristics of flow are the areas to focus on attuitively:
A.) Concentrating completely on the task or moment of bliss
B.) Clarity in purpose of the goal – practice reflection through introspection NOT rumination
C.) The capacity to transform time – speed up, or slow down the process of your functionality – gain control of the situation within your own determined regulatory flow development
D.) Focus on realizing what is intrinsically satisfying for you rather than what outside variables (people, places, things) have to do with your disposition. i.e. you earned a hundred bucks – do not focus on how the hundred bucks is important to you – focus on the idea that YOU were paid for what you wanted to do.
E.) Ease of the process, if the process is too hard, or does not provide a sense of satisfaction and requires more effort than you feel is worth the result. You will never find happiness in pursuing that end – much misinformation out there suggests otherwise but if you do not like what you are doing and you do not like the effort it takes to do it, you will find that at the end you will settle for the result, or may find a different result, but your flow is not going to concentrate on the individual effort, it will focus on the external reward and happiness is shallow and temporary from that origination.
F.) Build a proper balance between challenging and personal skill reality. Endeavors should challenge you but should not demean you. Scaffolding is a better method for taking on difficulty and expanding boundaries, or skill development.
G.) Merge action and awareness when possible – learn to feel good in the zone but understand what put you in that zone.
H.) Remain in control of the task and the environment – loss of control does not achieve happiness. Escaping by means of fantasy, intoxication, or assimilation will only discourage and placate your process. If you feel the issue, or environment is not rewarding to you – do not try to force acceptance or for others to accept a half-truth of you, seek the places and people that you are subconsciously comfortable with, and those elements which provide positive contributions to your happiness and personal development.
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“I can only point you in the direction, I can not make you choose the path” - MadzookJoe