A decision I made several years back, was that if books that I was reading, kept referring to one author/thinker, etc., time and time again — then I needed to go read that person. More than likely, this person would be the original source of much of the work others have built off.

And why just keep reading what others say about a topic, then when you can go to the original source and researcher of the topic.

This was the case with the concept of “flow”.

A topic that is written about in tons of books on leadership and performance.

The book is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who is a professor of psychology and management at Claremont Graduate University.

What I have realized in reading the book, is that most often what is written about as “flow” is only a small percentile of what actually Csikszentmihalyi dives into regarding the topic. It is so complex and paradigm shifting, that I have had to take a ton of time to slow down and read — just to make sure I understand the implications for my own life.

I will probably unpack more about “flow” over time, but something I just want to dive into with a couple of quotes, and ponder a bit (in this post and in my podcast and video) — is this idea of psychic energy.

The idea that we have limited attention, and what we give our attention to shapes our life — makes sense and seems simple. But I wonder how much do we actually think about this.

I came off a season of training for my first 100 mile trail run, and I described the idea that psychic energy has been guiding my attention around this idea of a 100 mile run…for maybe a decade. A decade in nether regions of my unconscious, but over time it has emerged to the forefront, to where the last year or so I have been completely consumed by it.

Each person allocates his or her limited attention either by focusing it intentionally like a beam of energy–as do E. and R. in the previous examples–or by diffusing it in desultory, random movements. The shape and content of life depend on how attention has been used. (pp. 32/Kindle)

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 pleas; hence, attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience. (pp. 33/Kindle)

Some questions I have been thinking about recently:

I wonder what has your attention right now?

What is taking up your psychic energy that you are hardly aware of?

What is as the foremost thought/thinking in terms of your attention and psychic energy at this moment?

What kind of life are you creating and shaping with what you are giving your attention to?