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nikipedia's avatar

What are your pleasure, flow, and meaning activities?

Asked by nikipedia (27727points) April 8th, 2011

I watched a TED talk by Martin Seligman that my meditation teacher recommended. In it, he talks about three paths to happiness:

(1) Pleasure activities. Doing things you enjoy brings you happiness, except you have to be careful because pleasure habituates quickly (e.g., the sixth spoonful of ice cream never tastes as good as the first).

(2) Flow activities. Flow refers to that feeling of being totally absorbed in what you’re doing—being in “the zone.”

(3) Meaning activities. This refers to doing things that are altruistic and give your life a sense of purpose, that let you feel like you’re making a contribution.

Do you have these activities in your life? Would you recommend any to other people? Do you agree that they bring you happiness?

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16 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

1) Hiking
2) Painting, photography, target shooting
3) Writing fiction and poetry

wundayatta's avatar

Sounds right to me. For me, pleasure comes from making love, eating great food, and probably a few other things, but mostly those two. I guess having dinner table conversations with my wife and kids can be a lot of fun, too.

Flow is making music or dancing improvisational dance. I literally get out of my mind and into my body. Writing can also do that for me, especially if I am writing about making love.

Meaning… well, I’ve been trying to make the world a better place all my life. I have done political work and policy work and now I’m training researchers so they can figure out how to make better policy. I am also bringing up my children, and, strange as it may sound, writing on fluther is very meaningful to me. I know that I help because a handful of people have told me how much my words helped them. It may not sound like much, but it is quite gratifying for me. Not that I wouldn’t like more recognition, but at least I know these people are sincere.

Things change, of course. It’s not always easy to get what I want. I don’t have to worry about the pleasure things losing their effect, because, except for food, they happen so rarely. I soldier on. I soldier on.

YoBob's avatar

Interesting question

Pleasure – Scotch

Flow – Arcane arts (leather work, blacksmithing, spinning/weaving, flint knapping, etc…)

Meaning – Of course, the role of husband/father tops this list. However, as for how I spend my “free time”: Cub Master and Armoror of a fencing club (making sure the kids equipment is in good repair whenever they go off to compete in a tournament).

tinyfaery's avatar

1. Eating out at great restraunts, a good concert, Disneyland.

2. Reading and organizing anything.

3. (I don’t really believe in altruism) Doing animal rescue sure makes me feel that I am helping another living creature.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

1.Art,music,sex and nature are a few.
2.Creating art does exactly that for me and is a big reason why I do it.
3. I create art for certain projects and charities that directly benefit others.

Cruiser's avatar

1. Guitar playing, cooking and sex….sometimes all at the same time for that extra thrill.
2. Zone activity is jamming on guitar where you climb inside the riff and completely let go, swimming does that for me too and sex of course can take you to a whole other world when the mood is just right.
3.Volunteering my time at scouts and other events and activities in my community really brings it all home for me.

Haleth's avatar

(1)Wine with great food- you’re so right, it tastes best in moderation. Wine is pleasing to all the senses- obviously taste and smell are the first things we think of. But there’s also the mouthfeel; wine can feel smooth, watery, thick, or lingering, for example, and a nice chill on a glass of white wine really complements the whole experience. And then wine is colorful and pleasing to look at, and you’ve got the pop of the cork and the clink of the glasses. Pairing wine with a bit of complementary food can actually seem to change the taste of both. If you have a red wine that tastes bitter or acidic on its own, then you have it with a nice grilled steak, you’ll start to notice flavors opening up that didn’t seem to be there before. The tannins in the wine will keep the fattiness of the steak from overwhelming you.

Listening to music. In my mind, music and the sight/feel of what’s going on around me are paired in kind of the same way as food and wine. Certain songs and types of music just naturally go with times of day, times of the year, rain or sun, etc.

(2) Reading, writing, or painting. At work, planning and implementing new ideas, such as marketing campaigns or training.

(3) Exercising. If I had my way, I’d just sit around drinking wine and listening to music all day and I’d be about 500 pounds. Whenever I do anything even remotely active (like a walk around the block or a bike ride) I feel like, “Damn! I did something!” all out of proportion to what I’ve actually done. I went on a 20-mile bike ride last year and I had to keep stopping once a mile all during the last stretch. My boyfriend was pretty much biking circles around me. To me, that’s like freaking climbing Mt. Everest.

Volunteering, especially with the elderly, and doing things to help my elderly relatives. One thing that really bothers me about American culture is that we tend to keep the elderly out of sight and out of mind. My grandmother frustrates me sometimes, but she’s lived a really amazing life- she grew up in India, climbed in the Himalayas, traveled by boat up the Red Sea and to Turkey and Greece, and road tripped from D.C. to Alaska. Nowadays she has trouble walking around and caring for herself.

This was a great question; I never thought of categorizing ideas into different types of enjoyment, but it completely makes sense.

yankeetooter's avatar

1. reading
2. singing, playing the piano
3. teaching, listening

Porifera's avatar

1. Tea & cake/Milk & cookies. Backgammon. Cooking.
2. Taking care of my 5 dogs. Internet forums.
3. Teaching. Internet forums.

Bellatrix's avatar

Pleasure: Travelling to new places, going to concerts, watching films, eating out at special restaurants, meeting with friends, drinking fine wine.

Flow: researching in my field (I can become totally, totally absorbed), reading, walking, listening to certain music, enjoying being in the garden listening to the wind in the trees, watching the birds etc.

Meaning: mentoring activities (at an organisational level or individual level), being altruistic (can be as simple as giving to those who are homeless and on our streets, giving goods I no longer need, formally giving to charity).

cak's avatar

Pleasure: Wines. I love trying different wines.

Flow: I’m quickly learning that outlining a new book idea is falling into this category. Sketching. I get completely lost in that world of whatever I wish to create.

Meaning: One of the most humbling moments of my life, was meeting a young boy with cancer. He was braver than I could ever be, now I sit with children during chemo rounds, when they have no one else with them…no one should be alone, unless they want to do this quietly, on their own.

kenmc's avatar

I read this question when it was first asked and thought if over while I was at work…

Pleasure: Biking, walking, taking pictures, and lazing around.

Flow: Reading, learning, and marathoning good shows.

Meaning: This one was the most difficult. I try to be generous. Sometimes I think it comes off as showing off, though. I also try to be as helpful to others as I can. Stuff like holding doors and general stuff. Whether those things give my life meaning, I’m not sure.

Berserker's avatar

Playing video games. But it’s true, after going through countless elemental based dungeons for 27 hours and reaching level 57, it’s gettin a bit monotonous, no matter how cool my attacks look.

Horror movies. I escape when I watch them, and go to another world. Even if it’s corny, stupid or cheese material, I’m gone man, and I love it.

Getting drunk. It’s the only time I feel like anything really matters or is important. I hope I don’t destroy my horror passion by doing these last two together.

augustlan's avatar

Pleasure: Sex, reading a good book, watching a good movie, making art, laughing, sleeeeep. There is nothing better than a killer nap!

Flow: Making art, thinking and/or talking about interesting stuff of all kinds, rocking out in my car (singing at the top of my lungs, flying down the highway). Any of those things can kind of sweep me away.

Meaning: First and foremost, being a mom. I really do feel like my main purpose in life (and my main shot at making the world an incrementally better place) is to raise my kids to be decent human beings. Trying to make my little corner of the world more pleasant for those who inhabit it (not necessarily geographically), by being friendly to all and helpful, too, if I can be. Fluther. Being an ‘open’ person (I’m finding this difficult to explain. Something like “If I share the negative things I’ve experienced and overcome, it may help someone else in similar circumstances. By being open and honest about my life and myself, it might foster a more human connection”.)
As for whether I would recommend any of mine to other people, I don’t know that it would really do any good. We’re all so different (as evidenced by our answers), that what brings one of us enjoyment might be a big downer to another. Maybe the best advice to give along these lines is: Try a lot of things. Keep the ones you like.

I also don’t know if these activities bring us happiness. I was depressed as hell for a lot of years, and most of this stuff was already in my life at that time. I could be happy in a moment, but it wasn’t sustainable despite these things. What made a huge difference in my level of happiness (aside from anti-depressant drugs) was learning to accept my nature and to stop fighting against it. To accept that this is who I am, for better or worse, and to like myself anyway. In essence, to stop trying to add things to my list ^^ just because I thought I should like (or at least want) to do them.

Great question, @nikipedia!

OpryLeigh's avatar

Pleasure: Sex, sleep, internet, theatre, watching tv or a film, horse riding

Flow: Driving, spending quality time with my man

Meaning: Singing (I have lessons fortnightly and sing in concerts and festivals fairly regularly – I don’t always enjoy it but it certainly makes me feel a sense of meaning), my various jobs.

yankeetooter's avatar

@Leanne1986 I love to sing too. I sing in a church choir and always horribly miss it over the summer when we’re off…When I’m in rehearsal singing, I find that I cannot stay in a funk…music requires something deep from me…I can’t do it halfheartedly, and therefore I cannot stay down if singing…

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