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On Creating Ourselves

This via Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is an important reminder re: flow and our attention:

Because attention determines what will or will not appear in consciousness, and because it is also required to make any other mental events—such as remembering, thinking, feeling, and making decisions—happen there, it is useful to think of it as psychic energy.

Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work it is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we invest this energy.

Memories, thoughts, and feelings are all shaped by how we use it. And it is an energy under our control, to do with as we please; hence, attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.

What we think about determines everything and what we think about is what captures our attention (and holds it). Are we in control or are we out of it? There really isn’t much of a middle ground.

We create ourselves by how we invest this energy and there are many, many ways we could be investing this energy at any given point during the day.

In the moment, it seems like nothing. But, repeated behaviors locked into schedules and calendars and systems ultimately is who we become. Truly, we are what we do.

And, personally speaking, I’ve realized that I’ve been a “Wartime CEO” for over a year now and it’s what I’ve become; you wouldn’t have to look farther than my calendar and notebook of unending tasks.

I see it much more plainly now: I made a decision and then I invested significant portions of my limited resources and energy in creating that very identity.

Was it a good decision? That has yet to be determined (but I’m hopeful). Is it working? Well, that depends on who you ask.

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