Monday, November 1, 2010

Optimal experience

I was reading Felicity's thought on creativity over at Gifts of Serendipity and she mentioned Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's work on what he calls 'flow' or 'optimal experience'. I zipped over to the TED video (oh how I love TED... very white) and learned more. And then, because I'm just like that, I also read some of Csikszentmihalyi's psychology papers and learned all I could about the essence of optimal experience. And I think it can be related to weight loss for sure.

Flow is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing. To achieve flow, you have to balance your skill level to the activity you're doing. If the task is too easy or too difficult, apathy will result.

I think in the past, I have tried to do too many weight loss things beyond my 'skill' level. I've felt like you have to be a 'perfect' dieter in order to lose weight and reach your goal. You have to run 30 minutes 3 x a week, do weights a couple of times and you have to drink 2 litres of water and you have to write down everything you eat (I hate that part) and you have to only eat certain things and not others and never big quantities, keep everything small.

Considering that I've been on a diet for 20 years, I think we can assess that my experience was not optimal.

This time, I think I've matched my capabilities better to the task at hand. This time, I'm doing 1 run for about 25 minutes after lunch. That's it. That's all I can commit to and enjoy and that's that. I'm considering a addinga  bike ride, but I'm not going to worry about it if it doesn't happen.

I've also 'uncomplicated' the food by sticking with lots and lots of vegies or salad and a hearty serve of meat or beans. Not a palm sized serve or a 100g crumb. But a big, delicious, fulfilling serve that I look forward to.

I've cut back on carbs. Unintentionally, but I know in my heart of hearts that I just don't find a half a cup of pasta or rice satisfying and what is bread without butter, so why go there in the first place? I'm having some carbs here and there, but not many. It leaves me more room for my big fat juicy steak, so I'm okay with that.

Matching capabilities with the task at hand... Hmmmm.... I like this Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi dude. Even if I couldn't pronounce his name for the life of me!!

{Image via here}


Lucy said...

He sounds like a sane man, and is likely right. xx

Aubrey S. said...

That's a great thought. When I have a little more free time, I'm going to have to read more about his work.

MultipleMum said...

That is a seriously crazy last name! Interesting analogy.