20 Ways to Find Joy in Every Day
The secret to happiness might lie in knitting a scarf, according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD, whose research has shown that immersing yourself in an activity (especially one you find pleasurable) can trigger a state called flow. "The more flow you bring into your life," Csikszentmihalyi says, "the happier you'll be." Focusing intently in this way is thought to increase levels of the neurochemical dopamine, which kicks up your focus another notch, creating a feedback loop of heightened engagement and, thus, deeper rewards. Your quickest route to flow? When you're skilled at something but haven't yet mastered it. But flow isn't one-size-fits-all, and even distractions aren't deal breakers—if you thrive on noise, for example, you can still feel flow while a car horn honks outside your window.
A trio of fluent flow-ers talk about tuning out everything but the task at hand.
"You're making split-second decisions, not knowing why you're waiting for another bid, why you think someone's about to change their mind, but you feel the room and tap into your intuition."
—Tobias Meyer, principal auctioneer, Sotheby's
"When things compete for my attention—the announcers, coaches, fans—I create my own environment. I go into my own world, listening to music, singing, making jokes to myself."
—Kelly Clark, snowboarder, two-time Olympic medalist
"I think, 'What's the most genuine performance you can give today?' Forget the 'best'—every night can't be fireworks. I'd rather be real. The most successful moments happen when the music and the people move you."
—Dessa, rapper and writer