Aristotle described the good life as being characterized by the habit of virtuous action. Today there is too much focus on feeling good. We choose activities and purchase things that make us feel good. This isn’t what makes us happy though. With the rise of materialism in society, there has also been a rise of depression throughout the nation.
The good life, according to Aristotle, contains leisure that is intellectually simulating, creative, moral, and conductive to good human relationships. Aristotle stated what modern research has confirmed, “Virtue-not seeking pleasure, but doing good-is what will help you be happy.” We can learn to incorporate all of these aspects into our family activities.
When we are working on something we need to find our flow; we need to balance the challenge of our task with our skill level. When our skill levels are high and the challege is low, we are bored. If the task is too far above our skill level we get anxious or frustrated. We have the best experience when our skill level and the task’s challege are balanced, or we have reached flow. (see diagram below)
Flow is characterized by challenge, merging of action with environment, clear goals and feedback, concentration on the task, sense of control, loss of self-consciousness, and transformation of time. We need to be doing activities that allow us to reach flow. This can be a challenge for families of differing skill levels to all reach flow while doing the same activity. Parents can have older children teach younger children how to play, they can let children participate in helping older family members play the game (moving pieces, picking up the cards), or they can break up the family into groups based on skill level.
Keeping these principles in mind as we plan family activities can help make the experience more enjoyable for the whole family.
For the full article see: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1097&context=marriageandfamilies
http://www.destateparks.com/images/activities/family-camp.jpg (camping family)
http://austega.com/gifted/16-gifted/articles/24-flow-and-mihaly-csikszentmihalyi.html (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory)