About happiness, and following on from the previous entry, it is useful to consider what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1992) says on the subject in his book “Flow – The Psychology of Happiness”. In his book about happiness, he traces the way that agencies that seek powers for specific purposes – states, churches, employers, retailers and many more, exploit human consciousness and control human behaviour to their own ends.
His definition of stress is that it occurs when the individual looses control their life, resulting in a belief that they are essentially powerless.
His solution is for the individual to regain their perceived loss of power. Many of us try to do this by changing our external life circumstances, perhaps by, getting a new job, moving house, having children or getting married or divorced.
Unfortunately, Csikszentmihalyi says that this will not remove the source of stress, because by fulfilling what are probably our “heart’s desires” we are actually further “buying in” to the system that is controlling us and was the cause of our stress in the first place. He takes, and frequently reiterates the view that it is not external fortune or misfortune that determines how a given individual will cope, but the inner resources and ultimately the belief system of that individual. If we believe that we are the victims of our circumstances, we will experience our lives as exceedingly stressful. Gaining power or control over our lives is not however enough to remove the negative effects of stress.
Pursuing the positive or ‘flow’ of human experience – that experience during which awareness of self and time are lost, Csikszentmihalyi throws light on the reasons we experience the events or circumstances in our lives as stressful.
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Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1992) “Flow – The Psychology of Happiness” (1992) is available from Amazon