Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Consciousness as intention. I think Mihaly is getting at some profound stuff here. Instinct drives animals. They don't have the perceptual control we have (a powerful consciousness). We can create or adjust our perceptions, even ones that we might label as more instinctual, like hunger. So a person can resist the pangs of hunger, even redirect their meaning if one is on a diet or hunger strike. But I have to believe animals have some ability to adjust perception; it's just no where near as flexible as ours. I'm thinking of how watching monkey's play, interpret actions from other monkeys. Where for bees, perception is hard wired, in monkeys I bet there is some processing going on.

BTW, I heard sometime back that we, humans, are more genetically related to chimpanzese than we are to gorillas. The suprising additional fact is that chimpanzese are more related to humans than they are gorillas. At first it doesn't seem to say anything, but as I thought about that, it seemed a profound fact. I don't get this

Intention and Will: Mihaly's asserts that intention organizes consciousness. He might even say intention is necessary for consciousness to exist. Without personal intention, there is no consciousness...I think that represents him accurately. So much information is felt or "known" and reacted to by our bodies unconsciously. Instincts and biochemical cycles operate here.

Intention and information theory.

Fascinating and simple idea. Where does that leave the Buddhists? They strive for no-mind, non-attachment, an ego-less state. Chaos. Openness to the Tao, way.

No, they are not in conflict with Mihaly. Such practices focus on breaking the conditioned response to external and internal conditions. Creating space and gaining control over perception. The non-attachment is about enabling non-conditioned responses to the stimuli of our environment (external and mental).

So the vow of abstinence is not about any belief that sex is profane or a sin, but rather it's a harmless, continuous test of your ability to disconnect (non-attach) from the natural, conditioned sexual urges. Same with fasting (in a limited form). I think the meaning of those acts (sex or types of food are bad) were ways to rationalize the act. Indeed, those rationalization have become beliefs or social conditioning, which the act of fasting or abstinence was originally trying to avoid.

Again, it's about creating that "space" where the practitioner can choose his/her responses, instead responding automatically.

Seems so odd. I guess life and consciousness is a dynamic balance between the two, intention and non-attachment. The influence of chaos will greatly affect our results our intentions direct. Mihaly goes into that in some depth. Seems the precursors for an internal war. If we are wired to have our own intentions, yet they will not always manifest, that's how Buddhist's define suffering, attachment to what it impermanent or beyond our control. Attachment period. It's like you have to go into the game knowing the rules and reality and monitor your expectations accordingly. If you become too attached, you push for the goal with all you have. If you get it, you're king of the world. If not, you're potentially shattered--though you can always construct a more useful perspective...and I guess that's Mihaly's point.

The better we control the perceptions, the happier we can be.

Happiness. That was why I picked up this book again. I wanted to know more about happiness. It has a lot to do with having control over your perceptions or choosing positive perceptions instead of negative ones. But is that Polly Anna? Polly Anna was happy, but that's not enough.

I'm eager to see if I'll get into this book further. So far I'm intrigued with the connections I'm making to other books I've been communing with over the last few weeks.

Consciousness - Intentionally organizing information.

Flow - Pleasure Does NOT Equal Enjoyment

In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi makes the distinction between pleasure and enjoyment that I found helpful, though a bit technically phrased:

"Pleasure is a feeling of contentment whenever information in consciousness says the expectations set by biological programs or social conditioning have been met."
"Enjoyment occurs when a person has not only met some prior expectation or satisfied a need or desire, but also gone beyond what he or she has been programmed to do and achieved something unexpected, perhaps even unimagined before.

The point or distinction is that pleasure is passive, "a feeling of contentment" which can result from an activity you have done or something you receive (like a message). Enjoyment is engaged and is always the result of your own activity or the investment of your attention (or "psychic energy" as Mihaly calls it).

Enjoyment is the result of activity, but pleasure is o you can feel pleasure by doing something enjoyable, but not the other way around?

Pleasure is passive. So pleasure is when you feel good passively. Relaxing. Watching TV. The satisfied feeling you have after eating (and for most of us the act of eating, maybe). Nice idea or distinction.

Pleasure is a feeling of contentment when your attention/consciousness is basically relaxes, satisfied--you aren't in danger, goals (that are in your conscious attention) are met. Pleasure. I suppose the reason we may drug ourselves with food and other drugs is to limit our attention so we can feel pleasure. Left to our own devices, the dissatisfaction is too great, attention will wander to that, and pleasure recedes, replaced by depression, anger...so we grab a bottle or the remote.

I'm trying to tease out what Mihaly is getting at. He talks about investing attention or psychic (?) energy. The idea is that to experience pleasure, you don't need to invest your attention or PE. Like eating. You can experience pleasure in eating, but if you invest your attention to the process, you will enjoy the food. That may be a fairly good and simple descriptions of what Mihaly is after. Also, with enjoyment there is growth. In fact, that's really the test for enjoyment. If you grew (in complexity) from the experience, you enjoyed it. If you did not grow, it was only pleasurable.

Happiness can NOT be obtained by traveling the path of pleasure. It can be attained by traveling the path of enjoyment.

Joy and happiness. Is there a difference, or should we assign one?

So if pleasure is our only goal, we're doomed as a culture. We'll be lazy, unproductive. If enjoyment is our aim, we'll be productive, but perhaps we'll run ourselves into the ground (type A). As always, it's about finding a balance between two or more related...poles.

We have to control our own experience. We have to control our perceptions, because perceptions drive our feelings and behavior. Perceptions. Experience.

Order...schedules impose order on the mind. Does that interfere or squelch creative impulse...or does it seed them? Like so much in life--like everything in life--it's a balance (battle?) between opposing forces. Order battling impulse. The order may stimulate some creative impulses, but also denies others. Can't be helped. We can't handle the unlimited. We need limits, if only because our mind, our consciousness...the limits of our consciousness...Our mind is incapable of comprehending the infinite...numbers beyond seven. (Isn't the answer 42?...or was that the question?)

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Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience