Thursday, September 3, 2009

What is your home state and where you want to go?

Dear You,

My son is studying in third standard and as part of his Social Studies lesson he needs to learn all the states of Indian union along with their capitals. Not an easy task for his age. So I have got this giant India map hung up in his study room and I am beginning to use the map a Visual aid to show each of the states. The approach I am taking is start with his home state i.e. where he is currently located (i.e. Andhra Pradesh) and then move to other states in an alphabetical order. I point out each of the new states and also try to give examples of his friends or anyone from the neighborhood, if they happen to be from the given state so that he relate well to new state he is learning right now. For few places I also entice him about the place about what it is good for thereby raising his curiosity to visit someday.

You might wonder why I am talking about States as third standard geography possibly makes no sense here. It is just child play. My topic of discussion right now is about States but a different kind of states. These are “States of mind”. So what’s your take on states of mind that your mind will be going through most of the time? What might you be your predominant (home) state and what will be the desired that you would take your mind to?

A well renowned professor of Psychology by name Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (I know it is a quite a tongue twister to be able spell it, but that’s not terribly importantJ), came up with a model/definition of possible states of mind.

He also modeled the state of mind along two dimensions.
Skill level - represented along X axis (closer to axis meaning low skill), while further along the axis meaning higher levels of skill.
Challenge level – represented along Y axis (closer to axis meaning low challenge) and further along the axis meaning higher levels of challenge.

As we can see from the above picture there are total – 8 states of mind represented as per the model.
• Apathy - is a combination of low skill and low challenge levels. When one’s skills is not adequately developed one tend to feel “indifferent” to the task, particularly when one is challenged to low level of challenge.

• Worry – is a combination of low skill when faced with moderate challenge. Similarly Anxiety is the state of low skill faced with high level of challenge. The worry and anxiety states are good states, if used constructively to improve one’s skill to higher levels.

• Boredom – as you can see this is a case of moderate skill faced with a low level to mid zone level of challenge, however this turns into helpful state of Arousal as the challenge level grows. There is a definite sense of excitement at this stage.

• Relaxation – high skills level when faced with low level of challenge. Many a times people tend to perform their favorite activities as a means of relaxation. At mid level of challenge it is called Control. Because with higher skill any mid level of challenge feels to be absolutely in control but even that is not best state to be.

• “The last but the best state to be in” is known as state of Flow which has high skill equally matched with high challenge. It is in such a state on tends to lose the sense of time and become highly absorbed in the activity. The activity also becomes intrinsically rewarding and very pleasurable for doer of the activity.

Question is what is the predominant state in which your mind stays most of the time? And what is the desired state of mind for you? Have you experienced the “State of Flow” – if yes, with what kind of activities?

Let discussions and comments flow.

J2M (Journey to Mastery – Hopefully it is not a Mystery :-)

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