Wednesday, March 20, 2002


I've been reading Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It's about very basic life principles (confirming with modern psychological research what people have known and practised for millennia), but it is a good kick in the rear for me.
Goals [e.g., working toward a doctorate] can lead into all sorts of trouble, at which point one gets tempted to give them up and find some less demanding script by which to order one's actions. The price one pays for changing goals whenever opposition threatens is that while one may achieve a more pleasant and comfortable life, it is likely that it will end up empty and void of meaning....Goals justify the effort they demand at the outset, but later it is the effort that justifies the goal. (pp. 223-24)
However, even if a goal is not met, it does not mean the time or effort spent attempting it is wasted or for nought. It is the concentration, the effort, the focus itself that produces flow or optimal experience.

So, instead of freezing up everytime I think of how much more work (and time) I have to go until I get my degree, and what happens if I end up not getting it, and then how many years will I have wasted—not to mention how much income forfeited, now I will tell myself that tackling a challenging task is a very worthwhile and satisfying use of my time, even if I don't accomplish the goal. However, by not being distracted by useless fretting, I can use my energy to make it more likely that I will finish.

End of self-help talk for today.

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