The “well-employed life” is what I leave you with this Friday. So many of us who are high sensation seeking highly sensitive people (HSS/HSPs) continually battle with staying “well-employed.” By well employed, I do not imply working for someone else to earn a wage or salary; rather, being well-employed is to be engaged on projects that are of intrinsic interest, that are challenging, and that allow us to fill our precious time in this life by being present in the here and now.
The notion of the modern “arrival” myth is a powerful one driven by vast consumer interests that wish to use all of us as profit centers from cradle to grave (even beyond). By communicating the idea that one can only be happy by having more stuff, better stuff, newer stuff, we set up a never-ending treadmill of acquisitions. Of course, in order to acquire new things we must slave away for others in work we may not enjoy, that may not offer engagement with out intrinsic interests, or, in fact, may not be suited to us in any way at all. Yet, we will do it to have more stuff, to pay for the stuff we think we ought to have, and to avoid being seen as different in the eyes of others. Conformity is an extremely powerful tool.
Now, we know that HSPs tend to theoretically pay less attention to the influence of culture but is that true for you? Or do you subscribe to the same general notion that if we only have X, Y, or Z we would be “happy?” There is much to be gained from being aware of the fundamental fallacy of living only for the future and learning to find an awareness of the ever-present NOW. The Buddhists teach us about the necessity of being in the present as the only truly worthwhile moment.
I am glad the accompanying video on this post eventually moved to discussing Flow, since the flow state is all about the NOW. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the originator of the Flow concept but the experience itself is as old as humanity itself. Csikszentmihalyi has pulled it together in a neat, tidy way that can be explained to others so it may be taught for its worth and value to human potential and human realization.
The Flow state, if you are not familiar with it is when we taken on a challenging task (but not beyond our abilities), where we lose track of time, where the work provides immediate feedback on our efforts, where action and awareness marge, and where the work is worth doing for its own sake. HSS/HSPs are likely keenly aware of being such a state as it is the only state we can be in where all anxiety and boredom are relieved, where all other concerns become secondary, and where our innately creative natures find perfect application.
Consider, for example, what it would be like to construct a small building, assuming you have basic carpentry skills such as measuring, cutting fastening, etc. Think of the challenge it would present to you to conceptualize the dimensions, how you would need to work out 1,001 details along the way, and how you would need to focus intently to accomplish each section of the project. The same would apply to many other projects, construction is just as example. Imagine the growth that would happen as you learn how to tackle a surprise unknown. You might have to research how to solve your problem in a book, view some YouTube videos, or ask a more experienced friend or special interest group on FaceBook, but you would bring to bear the skills and abilities to solve your issue, or you would fail and have to try again. In either case, you would learn and grow as a person in confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth.
We high sensation seeking HSPs tend to be far more fueled by a need to continually reinvent ourselves than do HSPs, who may also list boredom as a top issue. The HSS/HSP may be very high in new experience and novelty seeking, one of the four core aspects of the trait, as well as high in boredom susceptibility, another core aspect. When those two converge they tend to exert a powerful driving force that refuses to be held down for long. When one is high in novelty seeking and boredom susceptibility the drive is to seek the new, the unfamiliar, the interesting and unusual.
We also experience Flow states when we encounter the new and novel, when we bring our action and awareness into a singular focus of here and now. Flow is for everyone and will greatly alleviate tension, stress, anxiety, depression, fear, and the doldrums. Adapting our lives so they resemble Da Vinci’s “well- employed” status is our task as we each make choices about the quality of today and tomorrow.
How will you arrange and adapt your life to reflect an ever-present NOW?