Friday, December 29, 2006

One Dimensional Thinking

One of the problems that I realize in life is that there are a lot of seemingly conflicting extremes in life.

How do you remain flexible without being indisciplined? Or being strict without being rigid?

The answer is that we are limiting ourselves to one dimensional thinking.

This is the way we think.


However, life is complex. It isn't as simple as we think. By adding another dimension, we can solve this puzzle.


This solves our problem, we have to be both optimistic and realistic in life to succeed. A person who has optimism has the faith to move mountains, yet he must be realistic enough to realize problems when he sees them and solve them.

Conversely, there are people who are in the extremes of both ends. They are pessimistic, and cannot accomplish much, yet they harbour delusions of grandeur and nurture overbearing egos of themselves and selfish ambitions.

What about other problems?

How about being strict versus being flexible?

Again, the problem is that we are limited by our one-dimensional thinking and our vocabulary.


As the illustration shows, and we've all seen this in Malaysia, government service can be both slipshod AND extremely inflexible and rigid. The best service is disciplined, efficient and flexible and adaptable to situations.

In Physics, the conundrum of wave/particle duality can be resolved if we think of them as different dimensions or aspects.


Finally, in the spiritual realm, we have trouble thinking of Christ as both 100% God and 100% Man and also the dilemma between Predestination and Freewill.

God and Man Duality

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Flow and the Family

To provide flow, a family has to have a goal for its existence. Extrinsic reasons are not sufficient: it is not enough to feel that, well, "Everybody else is married," "It is natural to have children," or "Two can live cheaply as one." These attitudes may encourage one to start a family, but they cannot make it enjoyable. Positive goals are necessary to focus the psychic energies of parents and children common tasks.

Some might be general and long-term, such as planning a particular life-style—to build an ideal home, to provide the best possible education for the children, or to implement a religious way of living in a modern secularized society.

The family must be both differentiated and integrated. Meaning each person must develop his/her uniqueness and if one is successful, the rest of the family is happy and proud and when one is down, the family rallies around him/her. Integration means each person's goals matter to all others.

(My own notes: This reminds me of the Biblical notion to develop our own giftings and yet be united as one body).

How parents interact with a child will have a lasting effect on the kind of person that child grows up to be:

An optimal experience has 5 characteristics:

  1. Clarity. The children feel that they know what their parents expect from them. Goals and feedback.

  2. Centering. The children's perception that their parents are interested in what they are doing in the present, feelings and experiences and not whether they will be going to university or get a good job.

  3. Choice. Children feel that they have a variety of possibilities in which to choose, including that of breaking parental rules—as long as they are prepared to face the consequences.

  4. Commitment. The trust that allows the child to feel comfortable enough to set aside the shield of his defences and become unselfconsciously involved in whatever he is interested in.

  5. Challenge. Parents dedication to provide increasingly complex opportunities for action to their children.

Merry Christmas

Office Fireplace

Office Fireplace

Originally uploaded by nicodemus_chan.

Merry Christmas to all my friends and readers!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Complexity and the Growth of the Self

Following a flow experience, the organization of the self is more complex than it had been before.

Complexity is the result of two broad psychological processes: differentiation and integration.

Differentiation implies a movement toward uniqueness, toward separating oneself from others.

Integration refers to its opposite: a union with other people, with ideas and entities beyond the self.

A complex self is one that succeeds in combining these opposite tendencies.

The self becomes more differentiated as a result of flow because overcoming a challenge inevitably leaves a person feeling more capable, more skilled. After each episode of flow a person becomes more of a unique individual, less predictable, possessed of rarer skills.

Flow helps to integrate the self because in the state of deep concentration consciousness is unusually well ordered. Thoughts, intentions, feelings, and all the senses are focused on the same goal. Experience is in harmony. After the flow episode, one feels more "together" than before, not only internally but also with respect to other people and to the world in general.

A self that is only differentiated—not integrated—may attain great individual accomplishments, but risks being mired in self-centered egotism. By the same token, a person whose self is based exclusively on integration will be connected and secure, but lack autonomous individuality. Only when a person invests equal amounts of psychic energy in these two processes and avoids both selfishness and conformity is the self likely to reflect complexity.

Paradoxically, it is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.

Flow is important both because it makes the present instant more enjoyable, and because it builds the self-confidence that allows us to develop skills and make significant contributions to humankind