Flow state and crazy names

I, recently, started reading Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (r u serious?). Besides the author’s name, it has been a good read. I hit page 60 and I’m already getting a good feel for what flow is.

According to the book, flow is that state when we become present to the moment and forget about everything else. No family problems, work problems, relationship problems or financial problems. Flow can occur when dancing, playing a sport, playing chess, solving a physics problem, or reading and writing. Essentially, it requires the concentration of the mind’s focus.

Flow can even occur at social gatherings. Have you ever been having such a great time, with friends at a party, that time seems to fly by? You vaguely remember thinking of anything else, but what was happening to you at the party. I know, it has happened to me many times. Your mind hits a social flow state, concentrating on the present moment at the party.

What I’m curious to know, is whether the book is going to argue that, in order to enjoy a happy life we need to hit flow state as many times throughout the day as possible. It seems that’s where the book is going. If that’s the case, I can see how it would be hard for the majority of the population to find happiness in everyday life. Not many people spend their time doing activities that are challenging enough to induce a flow state of the mind.

Most people breeze through the day, with very minimal mental effort. T.V., apps, text messaging, gossip chatting, radio, music and mundane jobs. Now, I can see why most people get stuck with a routine that doesn’t bring them happiness. The happiness comes from flow, and flow seems to come from the concentration of the mind. Your mind only concentrates when the activity is somewhat challenging. And if we hardly engage in challenging activities, then we will hardly feel happy.

Did I just hit a mini flow state, typing this post up? Yeah… I think so. I’ll be sure to write more about this topic once I get closer to finishing the book.

Will Durant – A Shameless Worship of Heroes

Who are your heroes? Who are your icons? Do you practice the worship of heroes that will do you no good in life?

Below is a powerful chapter by Will Durant that claims we should worship the geniuses of human history. I agree. Somewhere along the way we forgot about that, and decided to worship icons that do nothing for us. The Jersey Shore cast, Kardashians, sports teams (even my precious Los Angeles Lakers) and the lifestyle that rappers/ musicians sing about. A little of all that is cool, if you must, but worshiping rap lyrics and TV characters can’t be good for your life.

How about the worshiping of heroes, such as Aristotle, Voltaire, Seneca, Franklin, Lincoln and Einstein? Where did that go? Those guys will do you tremendous good if you were to worship them and follow their advice regarding how to live life. Like Will Durant talks about, somewhere along the way we forgot about that. We lost touch on what’s truly important. We lost touch on the true matters of life. Forget what the television is peddling, or what the politicians peddle for you to learn in school, how about the geniuses that shaped our modern world?

Imagine how great our lives would be if we all worshiped the geniuses of human history. Would we even have a ghetto part of town? Would we have mass shootings and terrorist attacks? Would people commonly use drugs to escape their miserable lives?

It’s hard to factually say, but all those cases would probably be much much much much much less.

Do you want a better life? How about learning from some of the greatest thinkers who have dedicated their entire waking hours to thinking about what constitutes a better life.

Do you want to be rich? There are geniuses who have mastered that as well. Do the names Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger ring a bell?

Do you want to be fit and/ or really healthy? How about checking out what the cutting-edge researchers are saying about sugar, exercise and the other health areas.

Below is the exact chapter by Will Durant. The entire, short, paragraph has been copied below. Enjoy it, and I hope it sparks something in you.

Of the many ideals which in youth gave life a meaning and radiance missing from the chilly perspectives of middle age, one at least has remained with me as bright and satisfying as ever before – the shameless worship of heroes. In an age that would level everything and reverence nothing, I take my stand with Victorian Carlyle, and light my candles, like Mirandola before Plato’s image, at the shrines of great men.

I say shameless, for I know how unfashionable it is now to acknowledge in life or history any genius loftier than ourselves. Our democratic dogma has leveled not only all voters but all leaders; we delight to show that living geniuses are only mediocrities, and that dead ones are myths. If we may believe historian H.G. Wells, Caesar was a numbskull and Napoleon a fool. Since it is contrary to good manners to exalt ourselves, we achieve the same result by slyly indicating how inferior are the great men of the earth. In some of us, perhaps, it is a noble and merciless asceticism, which would root out of our hearts the last vestige of worship and adoration, lest the old gods should return and terrify us again.

For my part, I cling to this final religion, and discover in it a content and stimulus more lasting than came from the devotional ecstasies of youth. How natural it seemed to greet the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore by that title which so long had been given him by his countrymen, Gurudeva – (“Revered Master”) – for why should we stand reverent before waterfalls and mountain tops, or a summer moon on a quiet sea, and not before the highest miracle of all: a man who is both great and good? So many of us are mere talents, clever children in the play of life, that when genius stands in our presence we can only bow down before it as an act of God, a continuance of creation. Such men are the very life-blood of history, to which politics and industry are but frame and bones.

Part cause of the dry scholasticism from which we were suffering when James Harvey Robinson summoned us to humanize our knowledge was the conception of history as an impersonal flow of figures and “facts,” in which genius played so inessential a role that histories prided themselves upon ignoring them. It was to Karl Marx above all that this theory of history was due; it was bound up with a view of life that distrusted the exceptional man, envied superior talent, and exalted the humble as the inheritors of the earth. In the end men began to write history as if it had never been lived at all, as if no drama had ever walked through it; no comedies or tragedies of struggling or frustrated men. The vivid narratives of Gibbon and Taine gave way to ash-heaps of irrelevant erudition in which every fact was correct, documented – and dead.

No, the real history of man is not in prices and wages, nor in elections and battles, nor in the even tenor of the common man; it is in the lasting contributions made by geniuses to the sum of human civilization and culture. The history of France is not, if one may say it with all courtesy, the history of the French people; the history of those nameless men and women who tilled the soil, cobbled the shoes, cut the cloth, and peddled the goods (for these things have been done everywhere and always) – the history of France is the record of her exceptional men and women, her inventors, scientists, statesmen, poets, artists, musicians, philosophers and saints, and of the additions which they made to the technology and wisdom, the artistry and decency, of their people and mankind. And so with every country, so with the world; its history is properly the history of its great men. What are the rest of us but willing brick and mortar in their hands, that they may make a race a little finer than ourselves? Therefore I see history not as a dreary scene of politics and carnage, but as the struggle of man through genius with the obdurate inertia of matter and the baffling mystery of mind; the struggle to understand, control and remake himself and the world.

I see men standing on the edge of knowledge, and holding the light a little farther ahead; men carving marble into forms ennobling men; men molding peoples into better instruments of greatness; men making a language of music and music out of language; men dreaming of finer lives – and living them. Here is a process of creation more vivid than in any myth, a godliness more real than in any creed.

To contemplate such men, to insinuate ourselves through study into some modest discipleship to them, to watch them at their work and warm ourselves at the fire that consumes them, this is to recapture some of the thrill that youth gave us when we thought, at the altar or in the confessional, that we were touching or hearing God. In that dreamy youth we believed that life was evil, and that only death could usher us into paradise. We were wrong; even now, while we live, we may enter it. Every great book, every work of revealing art, every record of a devoted life is a call and an open sesame to the Elysian Fields. Too soon we extinguished the flame of our hope and our reverence.

Let us change the icons, and light the candles again. -Will Durant, Chapter 1 – The Greatest Minds And Ideas Of All Time

The little things are the big things

A few days ago I was watching a great NBA game between the Cleveland Cavaliers & San Antonio Spurs. It was a simple regular season game with no major implications. This game stood out to me because of one particular play by LeBron James.

Kawhi Leonard, from the Spurs, was sprinting down the court for a seemingly easy layup. While the closest Cavaliers were already jogging, essentially giving Kawhi the easy layup opportunity, one player was still running full steam ahead. That of course was LeBron James, the best NBA player in the league right now. LeBron did catch up and prevented the easy layup from occurring. He blocked the shot! While most players would have laid back, and given up on the play, LeBron kept going.

One announcer made a comment that LeBron James gave an incredible amount of effort, for an unimportant two point play, in just one of the many regular season basketball games. The other announcer added by saying, ‘that’s what makes LeBron James the greatest in the league right now.’

That exact play is what led to the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the NBA Championship last season, in Game 7, in the final minutes. If you’re a basketball fan, then you remember the great play that LeBron James made in that game, of sprinting down the court to block the very important layup attempt of Andre Iguodala. It was a career defining play. Some are already saying that it will be the play that LeBron James will be forever remembered by.

That sprint down the court, & blocked shot, was only possible because LeBron had already practiced doing it countless times in many less important games.

(Additionally, those big-time game winners by Kobe Bryant were only possible because he had practiced them thousands of times alone in the gym.)

This reminded me of the great saying that the little things are the big things. If you never practice the little things, then how can you expect to be ready for those big critical moments? You can’t and you won’t be ready.

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” -John Wooden

&

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” -Kurt Vonnegut

Remember that life is delicate

Throughout my life there have been plenty of reminders that life is delicate. This weekend there was another reminder.

I got a call Saturday, around 3 pm, letting me know that my Grandma’s health had taken a turn for the worse. She had some surgery a few days prior, and was recovering well. But…

Suddenly, things turned ugly and she found herself in a fight for her life. Her heart had stopped three times. Every time the doctors had successfully restarted it. She was now in an emergency room on life support, and the doctors were giving her a few hours to live.

My family and I rushed down to the hospital to be greeted by the sight of our entire family surrounding my Grandma at her bedside.

She didn’t look good at all.

Around 11 pm there was a positive sign. She opened her eyes and began to respond to questions (by blinking or not blinking). Today, she is still in a fight for her life, and I hope that she has the strength to make a full recovery.

Life is delicate and it’s pretty shocking to think that one day we will all be gone. Me, you and your favorite people. How crazy is that…

Hang in there Grandma.

*My Grandma took her last breath the following night.