According to research done by Professor MC (see full name below), people experience the positive experiences in life when they are eating, doing hobbies, sports, watching movies, socialising, and having sex. However, the research concluded that in daily life, people are most in a state of Flow when they are doing hobbies, sports or watching movies.
This is my 50th year. Am I living a balanced life? A happy life? A life where I’m experiencing Flow daily?
“Am I experiencing Flow in my life?”
As I begin to explore how I can make sure I live in flow, the first part of this exploration process focuses on flow in the family.
Family Relationships – Children
Do I have a flow relationship with my parents?
Professor MC states, “Unless parents and children share ideas, emotions, activities, memories, and dreams, their relationship will survive only because it satisfies material needs. It will exist only in the most primitive level”.
Today’s family is vulnerable unless it can provide intrinsic rewards to it’s members. Once material needs no longer need to be met, to keep the family together in flow, there has to be sharing of ideas, interests, activities, emotions, memories, and dreams. Unlike 100yrs ago, obligations are not enough to keep a family together in flow, mutual enjoyment through shared interests, activities, emotions and dreams do.
When I think about this, nowadays, I don’t have a lot to say to my 88 yr old father when I call him apart from asking him how he is. When we lived in New York as kids, daddy did play a part in my life other than that of the provider. My twin and I are the last born. I have memories (and pictures) of him taking us out to beaches, parks and places of interest. Daddy loved taking photos and he was good at it too. When we moved to Lagos, things changed after the first year. He did try to make conversation at times but because we didn’t have any shared interests, it was usually about school or studies. That’s not something most children will jump at the chance to talk about with their parents.
I believe he gave up after a few years and would usually just sit down and listen to us conversing with our mother. Something in me knew he would love for us to have a relationship where we would just sit down and chat but I felt that he had to make the effort to keep it going. He didn’t and so as the years rolled by we talked less and less.
My mother is a worrier. A woman who worries about everything. Mummy has to have something to worry about otherwise she would worry. Hahahahahaha!!!!!!!
Growing up, I often wondered whether worrying would take a toll on her health, so I would keep stuff that could cause her to worry from her until it was safe to tell her. She will be 85yrs old this year with no major health issues. Maybe, worrying has kept her sharp, alert and constantly using energy ( the brain uses more energy than any other human organ).
I’m not like my mum that way. Not that I don’t worry, but I have learnt to trust in and cast my burdens on to a higher power and I inherited sleep genes from my dad. When something worries me, I sleep. I’m chatty like mummy is though. When we talk, there is always something to talk about. But what has kept our relationship in flow? As I’m thinking about it now, I believe it’s the African mother/daughter flow. Unless the relationship is fractured, African daughters look out for their mothers.
Do I have a flow relationship with my children?
Do I flow with my children? They were born and raised in UK and live here. Their childhood is/was completely different from mine. They don’t have the same cultural ties and commitments that I have.
Apart from the usual mother/children discussions about different aspects of their lives like school, work, future, their friends etc, do we have shared interests that would help maintain our relationship long after the “providing for them years”? I can certainly say I’ve had conversations with them 1000% more than my parents ever did with me. Now that they are grown (21 and 16 years) I take an interest in their lives as much as I can without being too nosy. But is that enough to flow with them?
My 21yr old son and I share a strength training interest. We talk about it often. We are also both super hero fans. Actually, he is way way more advanced with regards both interests. We also both like art. He as an artist and I as someone who likes certain types of art. Will these shared interests keep us in flow in 10yrs time?
Then my daughter, hmmmm…..
I often wonder what the future holds for us. She is the child I’ve spent the most time talking to, with the hope that she will grow up sensible, confident and fearless, but what shared interests do we have? She’s not into fitness like her brother and I. She likes being fit and enjoys working out and regularly works out because she understands the benefits of being fit but I’m not sure she’s into it like I am.
We watched movies together when she was younger and still watch some movies together. Mainly Superhero movies but her knowledge is not on PHD level like her brother so I would go to him instead of her for info, a review or an upcoming movie update. We also both like art but like her brother it’s, me an observer and she, an artist. However, our relationship is such that she can come to me with any topic without fear and discuss things I couldn’t discuss with my mother when I was her age.
Do we have a bond that will transcend the “providing” years?
Here’s the thing, there’s really no guarantee that in 20 years, my children and I will still have the same shared interests. Children leave home and build their own lives. Even though we are a close family, now that they are older and independent, I enjoy the freedom that gives me. I don’t plan to be a mother who is too into the lives of her grown children.
However, I wouldn’t want a situation whereby in 20yrs, they had nothing to say to me other than asking how I was doing. It’s kind of nice to have discussions around activities we enjoy. It’s even nicer to be able to do activities together.
“One has to pay attention to what the child is proud of, what he/she is into, then one has to devote more attention to share those activities with him/her. Only when there is harmony between the goals of participants, when everyone is investing Psychic energy into a joint goal, does being together become enjoyable.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The same applies to husband and wife.
Quotes from Finding Flow by Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Professor of Psychology and Education at University of Chicago, USA.
Read more from this series: