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Flow & the Science of Happiness, 2 of 2


Speaking of happiness, developing the ability to shift to positive states of mind and body is also how champions or virtuosos intuitively achieve excellence in their field, a state of happiness so profound words do not suffice.

In Part 1, we considered what timeless wisdom and the science of happiness say about the power of our thoughts, more specifically, the cause-effect relationship between our thoughts and the feelings they spark, and how these shapes our lives and behaviors, words and ideas, etc., whether consciously or subconsciously, in the direction of increasing (or decreasing…) our personal and relational success and happiness.

In this post we consider the concept of “flow” (also known as being “in the zone” among athletes), and how top performers in all fields intuitively achieve these optimal states of mind and body, often described as a timeless harmony of motion, creative expression of self, so profoundly satisfying that words cannot describe.

Through countless case studies, controlled experiments and references to historical figures, philosophers and scientists, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi demonstrated in a book titled, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,  that “flow” is a uniquely desirable and productive state of being (mind and body), an experience that has been described by people from all cultures or walks of life.

Examining the question of how to achieve happiness, the author found that most people are not happy because they fail to see the value of challenges, frustrations they face — and yes, even value in dealing with difficult people in our lives.

Those that achieve their outcomes, keep a determined focus on the outcome — that feels to them as happiness, a reward in itself.

“In the long run, men hit only what they aim at.” ~ HENRY DAVID THOREAU

The universe, Csikszentmihalyi contends, was not created to make us happy but on the contrary, it serves to frustrate us and help us grow so we can learn how to turn our problems into joy. In other words, the purpose is to deepen our wisdom and understanding of life’s design, to learn and discover how to enjoy and access the power we have to generate happiness, and at the same time to protect our own happiness, wherever we are.

Ultimately, challenges are gifts from the Universe that are intended to help you fulfill a high calling, perhaps the most profound yearning of each person: to learn and experience how to love and be loved, unconditionally. Take a moment to think and reflect on this idea. Is this not your deepest desire and ache, your greatest hunger and thirst? This is also the case for each and every person in your life. It means you have the most vital aspects of life in common.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” SERENITY PRAYER (Author: REINHOLD NIEBUHR)

Make a commitment to make positive thinking and feeling states of mind and body a lifestyle; it will optimize your life and grow your ability to accept and see what aspects of certain situations are yours alone to change, and more clearly see what is not. Feel the difference of accessing wisdom and understanding when your brain and body, mind and heart, are in an optimally relaxed state. What you most yearn for is ever within reach, inside you.

Flow & the Science of Happiness, 2 of 2

Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik motivates clients to break free of anxiety, emotion reactivity, and other addictive patterns, to awaken wholehearted relating to self and other. She is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik

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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2016). Flow & the Science of Happiness, 2 of 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Sep 2016
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