Welcome to The Living Room!

Welcome to The Living Room!

I'm developing this blog to foster a warm community of people interested in ideas, art, science and practice around personal development and flourishing.

I work as an executive coach, and founded a company whose mission is helping people to find success at work in a way that provides satisfaction across all areas of their lives (you can check us out at www.madeleineshaw.com.au).

Leadership, learning, the wonderful brain/body connection, presence, influence, emotions, thinking, effectiveness, flow and FUN.

I want to know more, and do more!

The world is our living room so let's get living.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How interesting are you?

When I was a child, my complaints of boredom to my mother were given short shrift. "Only boring people get bored", she'd reply. I remembered that recently, when I was re-reading Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life (Masterminds Series) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He devotes a whole chapter to exploring how being interested in something relates to having "flow" experiences - flow being those times when you are totally absorbed in what you are doing, when the challenge is high and you have the skills to match, when time seems to fly by without your having a sense of it.
You've probably experienced that hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck feeling when something captures your curiosity.  It's that feeling of being fascinated. You lose the sense of yourself and place all your energy and attention on the object of your fascination.  Csikszentmihalyi calls it "disinterested interest" - interest that's about something outside ourselves. He says:
Without disinterested interest, life is uninteresting. There is no room in it for wonder, novelty, surprise, for transcending the limits imposed by our fears and prejudices.
When we are in this state, we are more likely to experience our peak state, or flow.
There will always be things that we don't enjoy doing but, of necessity, have to do (say, taking the rubbish out or attending a tedious meeting - my personal favourite, the tedious meeting). Csikszentmihalyi suggests that if we train ourselves to pay close attention to things, we will begin to find them fascinating, and will want to pay them attention. We are more likely to find ourselves in flow. Finding something in these tasks to capture our genuine curiosity and attention means they can give us energy instead of draining it. The challenge is to make the initial effort this requires, when it can seem easier in the short term to switch off or avoid the task.
My guess is that someone who is fascinated in, and engaged by, the world around them is going to be a lot more interesting than someone who is unplugged, bored, switched off. So I suppose that means my mother was right - only boring people get bored! What do you think?

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