Zen stack

We need to Accept w Wisdom, Change w Courage, and FLOW around lives challenges!


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the former head of
psychology at the University of Chicago.

Noted for his work in happiness and creativity –
Csikszentmihalyi is best known as the architect
of the notion of flow.

What is flow?

According to experts, “Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus,
full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.”

Athletes call it “The Zone.”

According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is completely focused motivation. It’s a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing
emotions in the service of performing and learning.

In flow the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand.

The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task.

Can you start thinking of ways being in “Flow” could help you in particular areas of your life?

Csikszentmihalyi identified these 9 factors that accompany the “Flow” experience:

1- Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one’s skill set and abilities). Moreover, the challenge level and skill level should both be high.

2- Concentrating, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and
to delve deeply into it).

3- A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.

4- Distorted sense of time, one’s subjective experience of time is altered.

5- Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).

6- Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).

7- A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.

8- The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.

9- People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.

Sounds like a lot to consciously focus on, doesn’t it? But in true FLOW it just happens!


Care-taking VS Care-giving

Care-taking VS Care-giving.  There are crucial differences between care-taking and care-giving and you will notice: the healthier and happier your relationship, the more you are care-giving rather than care-taking.

Care-taking and care-giving can be seen as a continuum.  We usually aren’t doing both at the same time.  The goal is to do as much care-giving as possible and to decrease care-taking.  Care-taking is a dysfunctional, learned behavior that needs to be changed.  We want to change so we can experience more peace, contentment, and better relationships. Intimates in your life may resist your healthier actions, but shifting to care-giving is a huge gift you are bestowing upon your loved ones. (Even when they do not see it at first)

The first step is identify loved ones that are care-taking you. (anyone in your life that you have given permission to watch over (Judge your decisions and or problems) Do you ask for opinions or advise in unhealthy ways? Do you ask or expect others to help carry your burdens, consciously or sub-consciously? Do you consistently go to the same people for help or support in a way that has allowed them to think you NEED them?. Are you giving them some control of your decisions or at least creating a dynamic of needing their wisdom instead of your own?

After you identify who is care-taking you, then ask yourself what role you play to keep that dynamic going. Care-taking is a hallmark of – and is rooted in co-dependency insecurity and a need to be in control, or give up some responsibility or control to another.

Care-giving is an expression of kindness and love, and is based on altruistic empathy with no expectation or ego based attachment to outcome. When we truly allow autonomy the other persons success or failure is their own and should have no effect on how we feel about the help, support, and love we gave or attempted to give.

Here are some key differences between care-taking and care-giving:

  • Care-taking feels stressful, exhausting and frustrating.  Care-giving feels right and feels like love.  It re-energizes and inspires you.
  • Care-taking crosses boundaries.  Care-giving honors them.
  • Care-taking takes from the recipient or gives with strings attached; care-giving gives freely.
  • Caretakers don’t practice self-care because they mistakenly believe it is a selfish act.
  • Caregivers practice self-care unabashedly because they know that keeping themselves happy enables them to be of service to others.
  • Caretakers worry; caregivers take action and solve problems.
  • Caretakers think they know what’s best for others; caregivers only know what’s best for their selves.
  • Caretakers don’t trust others’ abilities to care for their selves, caregivers trust others enough to allow them to activate their own inner wisdom and problem solving capabilities.
  • Care-taking creates anxiety and/or depression in the caretaker.  Care-giving decreases anxiety and/or depression in the caregiver.
  • Caretakers tend to attract needy people.  Caregivers tend to attract healthy people.  (Hint:  We tend to attract people who are slightly above or below our own level of mental health).
  • Caretakers tend to be judgmental; caregivers don’t see the logic in judging others and practice a “live and let live attitude.”
  • Caretakers start fixing when a problem arises for someone else; caregivers empathize fully, letting the other person know they are not alone and lovingly asks, “What are you going to do about that.”
  • Caretakers start fixing when a problem arises; caregivers respectfully wait to be asked to help.
  • Caretakers tend to be dramatic in their care-taking and focus on the problem; caregivers can create dramatic results by focusing on the solutions.
  • Caretakers us the word “You” a lot and Caregivers say “I” more.

As with changing any behavior, becoming aware of it is the first step.  Watch yourself next time you are with someone and ask yourself where you fall on the continuum.  It will take some work to change and you may experience some resistance and fear in the process — but what is on the other side is well worth the struggles of transformation.

Remove yourself from being taken care of in kind ways, and learn to accept care-giving instead. (This may be from new intimates or from shifting existing relationships)

Become a Caregiver yourself. Give freely non-attached to outcome. Guide don’t direct, and ask questions to help others discover their inner wisdom instead of assuming they need your profound wisdom.

Traveling from co-dependency to in-dependency and then hopefully to interdependency in our relationships is difficult but not impossible. We all are entangled and connected. We all need to support and love and be supported and loved as we move through challenges and seasons in our lives.

Happy Care-giving;-) !!!!



Recently while sitting and running a parenting group, the topic and/or question came up of “How do we start focusing on the positive rather than what’s wrong?”  This topic tends to be a general issue rather than a parent specific issue.  The issue at hand is that we spend more time focusing on what is wrong and thinking by doing this we can fix what is wrong and that our issues and troubles will be over.  The struggle is that when we spend our time on what is wrong we tend to see it as a continual stream of wrong.
I enjoy working on motorcycles. I like being able to take a motorcycle that isn’t functioning well and by process of illumination, track down what is wrong and fix it.  After stripping it down, this strategy works in helping me find the issue and putting the bike back together. The bike then tends to work more effectively. While this strategy may work on bikes, this does not work when it comes to human beings.  Human beings are more complex creatures than a simple animate object that is designed to do specific tasks. Since it tends to work well in those areas, we have the tendency to apply this philosophy to the complexity of humanity.   I cannot look at myself and simply through a process of elimination, track down one simple issue, fix it, and have my life become flawless from there forward.
There are a series of factors that play into the issues we all wrestle with.  Rather than spending our energy focusing on fixing what is wrong, there is a more effective strategy when it comes to dealing with humans and our own humanity.  One way is to simply shift our focus to look for those things that are “working” and “not working” in our lives.  When I identify the “working” pieces of my life, I can then start to see them as universal truths. I can then apply these truths not only to the issues they are working for but also use them on the things I may be struggling with.  For example, if I have the ability to let go of obsessive thoughts when it comes to work, that means I have the tools to let go of obsessive thoughts.  Therefore, if I am struggling with obsessive thoughts in my personal life, by focusing on how I am dealing with them in my work life and the processes I used to let go, I can then apply these same tools to my personal life for similar results.

We as human beings have a tendency to default to wrong and right thinking when it comes to problem solving. That may work on a carburetor; it does not work on hearts and minds of men and women.

Dean N Nixon
Seminar Director, Life Coach