FLOW with Sheik
Channel: Abdurraheem Green
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Episode Transcript ©
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As salam o aleikum, welcome to this live stream on abdur-rahim greens official YouTube channel. And today we're going to be speaking about flow. And I tried to make this poster quiet, you know, like, did you like the poster che
just took the you just took a screenshot from the book
I've got I've got that exact book, I've got that book with a particular cover on. Like how I radiated, you looked like later on, like,
you know, I just look radiating anyway, but it doesn't matter what.
Well, I shall up. Okay. So, you know, firstly, let's get into this. What is flow? And I mean, a lot of people may not have heard of the book, and why is this concept so interesting?
Okay, it's to do with happiness. Right? So there was a massive study done on human happiness.
I think sort of into the, you know, I wouldn't say the early stages, but sort of the more developmental stages of positive psychology. Like most studies in human psychology, early studies were really concentrating on, you know, negative things like depression, anger, anxiety, so on and so forth. But there was a movement that started positive psychology. So they wanted on start starting, start to under, you know, understand about, you know, positive things, you know, like love and happiness and joy, and so on and so forth. And, you know, positive emotions, right. And, you know, it's been obviously a very, it's been, actually, in many ways, revolutionary, it's been very,
very important. So one of the studies that was done is particularly impressive, because it was such a huge study. And it's also impressive, because it was done cross culturally. So a lot of studies in psychology tend to be,
yeah, they tend to basically be white, European, Western, university students, races, literally all you can, you can include a lot of psychology studies, all you can include is that, you know, why western university students? They have
they have a word, it's called a weird, Western educated industrial.
Something. Yeah. Rich. Democratic. Yeah, yeah. So there you go. So, exactly, yes, there's a whole book on that, which I haven't read.
And even Of course, Freud, you know, in his whole thing of psychoanalyst services or based in, you know, in Germany, like, you know, Germans, you know, what can I say?
So, I mean, you know, but an upset about that. But what was interesting about this study on human happiness, is that it was cross cultural. So it was done all over the world. And, and, you know, very quickly the experiment was that they,
I think people carried a device, and the device would randomly, you know, trigger at certain times, and when the device triggered, they would have to
enter some data about what they were doing, and how they felt when they were doing it. Right. So anyway, collecting all of this data, analyzing it, they came to the conclusion, right? That human beings were most happy when they were in what has become known as a flow state, or they call it optimal experience. Now, I sort of have to describe what it is.
I think, everybody,
everybody will have experienced it. Hopefully, at some time, the more you experience it, the more happy you tend to be. So I think the main important thing is to understand is that the conclusion of this study is that if you ask most people, what makes them happy, they will generally say things that you can imagine they will say money, sex, movies, nice car, nice house. Well, just power fame. Yeah, you know, those types of things. So if you ask people, What do you think's going to make you happy? Most people everywhere. By the way, this is not a Western thing. This is everywhere. People will say, you know, a lot of people will also say family and friends, by the way, as well, right?
But these things, they imagine that these things will make them happy. But when they actually examine it, they found that these things don't really make them happy. I mean, they make people happy. For a very short time when you get a new thing when you get some new products. When you get something new, you feel happy for a bit you feel good for a bit, but then it fades off really quickly. They have a beautiful term for it. They call it hedonistic entropy
So hedonistic entropy just means that, you know, the joy fades quickly, entropy means you know it dissipates.
So again, to be honest, most people sort of know this, when you confront people with them, and you make good people will sit down and talk, you know, they'll admit it, right? These things don't really make me happy. But we constantly work because I guess we live in a society that indoctrinates us to believe that's the whole consumer society is to keep fooling us and to keep brainwashing us and keep indoctrinating us that, you know, things make us happy, but they just don't. So what does make us happy? What are the things that really make us happy? So what makes us happy that the time that human beings are most happy, and they consistently report the highest states of happiness of
feeling good about themselves, right, is what they call a flow states. It's also called optimal experience. All right. Now, the weird thing about these flow states is that they are actually not necessarily easy to achieve. And that's it. That's, by the way, one of the reasons one of the reasons why they actually make you profoundly happy. And they give you a long lasting sense of happiness and achievement, is because it takes effort in order to reach that state. Okay, so this flow state or this state of optimal experience, and there's a very, there's a very interesting offshoot to this as well, Sybil, right? Which is, which is sort of being which is sort of being
looked into, there's a book I'm reading now called the rise of the Superman, but I haven't finished it, but that's going to be that's like
that's that that's the next stage from a flow experience. There's a whole nother level above that, right? Where something just incredible starts to happen in the human mind, right? It's just literally mind blowing, right? But most people haven't even got to the stage where that you know, I mean, ideally, as a human being, you want to try and live in a permanent state of optimal experience. So the more optimal experiences you can stitch together in your life, basically, the happier you will be. So what what are the conditions? Right? What are the conditions for this flow state? And I did say, you know, I did say on my Instagram, and like, I want to talk I want to end up
finishing talking about,
like, organized religion. Right? And you'll see why. Right, you'll see why organized religion is going to make you happy. When you understand what optimal experiences when you understand what real happiness is. You'll understand why organized religion, not wishy washy, do it as you like spiritually. Yeah, it's not going to do it for you. It will not do it for you. Yeah, maybe a bit of yoga, because it's, you know, it can be hard, but not as a long term thing. Right. Okay, so what are the conditions? First of all, the first thing that helps, is having an autotelic personality. So what does that what the hell is an autotelic?
So the first thing is, is that you do things for their own sake. Right? This is the first thing you do it for it out for their own sake, not not in order to so this is the first interesting thing is that if you're going to look for happiness, you won't find it. You can't look for happiness, right? This is like the first secret. It's the paradox, the paradox of happiness is that the more you look for it, the less likely you are to find it. So it's almost as if you have to abandon looking for happiness, because you're not going to find, you know, so this is the first thing. So you have to it has to be autotelic. So the action that you are doing, you do it for its own sake, that's what it
is. But just for the sake of the action itself, this is the first thing. It's interesting because it's a little bit like the concept of Nia and intention in Israel. Right. It's very interesting, right? That you see that? You will see the wisdom like when you study this stuff, it is mind blowing that you see how perfect the religion of Islam is, right? Any I mean, to be honest, any organized systemized religion is going to help you Islam is going to help you like way more, I think because obviously, you know, we know it's from Allah subhanaw taala. Right. So that's the first thing. The second thing is, is that the action that you're doing, it has to be defined, right? So it has to
have some parameters. It can't just be endless, it has to have in a sense, a beginning and an end. And it has to have some sort of goal that you can reach. So this is one of the things that in order to reach the flow state, you need to have the the thing that you are
participating in has a beginning and it has an end. Right? So it has defined parameters. Yeah. The second thing is, and this is interesting is it can't be too easy.
If it's too easy, you will get bored. And you won't feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment. And this is the big thing, the big thing is the feeling that you've really accomplished something significant. So ideally, the activity needs to actually be on the very, very limit of your capabilities. Yeah, it has to be on the edge, you know, you talk about being on the edge, you're right on the edge. If it's too hard, on the other hand, you will get disheartened and you won't be able to see it through. So the ideal position is that you are pushing yourself to the very limits of your capabilities. It's on that very fine edge. Yeah. Okay.
So those are the two of the parameters. The third and interesting parameter as three. Right? So now what did I say? Well, now I'm autotelic, you do it for its own sake, number two is defined. Number three, it's on the edge of your capabilities, it's not too easy, and it's not too hard. Right. And number four, right. The fourth thing is, is that you in some way, I mean, it could be quite vague, but in some way, shape or form, you should not only feel that you are improving yourself in some way. But also you are contributing. And this is interesting, that in some way, you're contributing to the betterment of humanity, it doesn't need to be the whole of humanity, right? It could just be
a little tribe or a little group of human beings in which that this activity is taking place, right. So these are these are optimal experiences. And they can be, you know, in anything, most people will be familiar with flow state, in sporting activities, right? That's where most people because sports, especially team sports, it you know, it has all look, it has all the ingredients, right? You play sport for its own sake, right? There's not really any other reason you do it, because it's fun, because it's for its own sake, yeah, it has a beginning and an endpoint, the match starts at a certain time, it finishes at a certain time, and you have a certain goal. In other words, you want
to try and win the match by scoring goals, or whatever it may be, right? Okay. And obviously, generally, you just keep pushing yourself, like with sports, there's not really a limit. And that's what's great about it, you can always keep pushing your boundaries, you can always be better at whatever it is you're doing, right. So there's always that possibility of pushing yourself. And third, you obviously you're paying it, you're playing in a team with other people who are also in that sport. So, there is that combination of all of those things taking place in sports, it can be sports, it could be chess, but it could be in anything, it could be at work, a lot of people reach
flow state, in work, right? It could be in work, it could be in photography, it could be art, it could be in editing, and most importantly, what you can see now having described it, why religion organized religion is very, very good at producing flow states, right? Because all organized religions and and one verse of the Quran that really, you know, for me, it's like you could call it the verse of flow, right? The idea of flow, right? It's actually the IRA about Ramadan. Yeah.
quotevalet como si como como put Seba either Latina man, Habla con la isla canta. To goon Are you believe fasting has been prescribed for you. Fasting probably is like one of those disciplines in Islam. It's for every religion, every religion has fasting. Yeah, so Allah has prescribed fasting for you, as he prescribed it for those before you it's in Judaism, it's in Christianity. It's in Buddhism. It's in every religion right? Maybe the exact details of how the fasting takes place is different, but it's there in every religion as it Yeah, Hinduism has it it's prayer as far as I know every religion has it right.
you know, and you're with this group of believers so it's something you're doing commit it's not just you do it especially in the Ramadan II although it's Yeah, personal acts of worship, you do with others, right. You have a particular object and it's defined you begin your fast at dawn, you break your fast at sunset, and you're doing it for 40 days. It makes it quite challenging even in winter, to be honest, the key
accumulation of fasts, it still makes it challenging. And so that may be praying at night and so on and so forth. So you can see how Ramadan
you know, perfect things
share green we've lost you for about, we've lost you for a sec. We lost you for 15 seconds. So when
winter Ramadan, that, that's where it froze. Yeah, I mean, even in winter, I'm saying even in winter when the days are short, right? You know, still the cumulative effects of fasting day after day after day is still you know, it's still challenging. And then on top of that you pray at night, all I'm showing is that it has every single aspects of every single ingredient to produce a flow state and no wonder people love Ramadan. Yeah, even the Muslims who don't practice any other time of the year, you'll find the practice Ramadan. Right.
And it has all of those ingredients. Now not only Ramadan, of course, it applies to everything praying five times a day. Yeah, right. Giving the regular charity. Okay, making Hajj. Wow. Right, making Hajj is real, really challenging. I mean, even today, it's challenging in the past, it used to be even more challenging, right? I mean, you know, it was almost a life or death situation situation, you know, you you made Hajj in the old days is a good chance. 5050 wouldn't come back. Right. So and even until today, it's you know, for most people, it is pushing them to the very edge of what they are physically, mentally and spiritually capable of, and no wonder that you come back
from that absolutely transformed. But this look from a psychological perspective, I'm talking purely from the point of view of psychology, right? Put aside any claim to religious truth, right? Any religion, right, that has these type of organized systemized, clearly bound rituals is going to benefit you psychologically massively, right? I mean, this is not even going into how and this is, by the way, very interesting. I don't really recommend everybody picks up the book flow and reads it. Because I, I've recommended this to people before. And it's written by an atheist, that guy is not a Muslim, or he's not he's not a Christian. He's an atheist. Right? He begins by saying the
universe is meaningless. isn't, you know, that is this what he says is meaningless. Right? So you know, like, he says, you just gotta find happiness wherever you can find it. Right. So like, it's not a book that you want to open up and just read, you know, if you're not really strongly founded in your feeder, and
yet, we've lost you again.
type one, if you can hear me.
Yeah, sorry. I've switched my, I've switched to. I've switched to my my 4g because my internet is rubbish. Yeah. Yeah.
What you were saying the last thing?
Yeah, what you were saying the last thing you were saying was basically, picking up the book is written by an atheist, but you're basically talking about the practical benefits. Just before you carry on there. There was something I wanted you to share with the audience. You know, the, the author writes about the Native Americans. And you know, there's a really interesting story. I think you should, because it shows how being uncomfortable is a good thing.
I don't really remember. I mean, I remember he tells a
story where they moved around. Do you remember that story? No. Okay. My mind is the one about the dervish funnily enough, like, Muslims who figure who just walk around, and he interviews him, and he details his experience and talks about, so it's quite interesting. He's very, he recognizes in the book, himself, how religion, he talks a lot about religion and flow states and how religion is conducive to flow states because, of course, he's an atheist. He tries to dismiss it.
You know, like, he doesn't do it very convincingly. And I think he himself is probably agnostic in the sense that he realizes that something bad. Yeah. He says, however, religions need to keep reinventing themselves, right. He said, Because they do. I mean, one of the things he says is they offer
you know, they answer these existential questions. Why are we here? What's it all about?
out. And it's very interesting. In his book, he does say, it's not enough
to string together flow states, it's not enough just to sort of sort of keep playing sports and, you know, whatever. Like he said, No, you have to have an overriding existential explanation for why are we here? What's it all for? Right? What's the purpose of life? He said, You have to have a flow state in that realm as well. It's very interesting, but he calls himself doesn't really offer any explanation as to what it might be. Right. But I recognize is that religions have it. And the very interesting thing is, well, he says that this is not a type of knowledge that you can inherit, it has to be experienced by every body of knowledge, right? There's, there's no, it's not like, you
know, you build it, you know, like on scientific knowledge, you build on scientific knowledge, right, you can build on it. Right? He says, not with this, you can't, everyone has to experience it. And, you know, he has he did make, I believe, is a really profound point. Okay. And that is that, and this is something unfortunately, that as Muslims, I think we have to realize, right, is the old narrative of, because not traditionally, when I say traditionally, culturally, for quite a while now in Islamic history, this whole
arena of thought has been covered by to sell off, right? I believe exactly what he describes those, that language is defunct now. Right? Mostly the language of the soul, woof, and the, you know, the sort of processes and rituals, they're just not suitable, right? For, you know, like, we need to find a new language, we need to fight to find a new way of expressing these truths and understanding them and implementing them.
And I think he has a very good point there. Right, this is the problem is because, you know, it becomes archaic. And he accuses all religions of this. I don't think that's necessarily true. I don't think that the basic religious tenets of Islam, and the basic fundamental practices are universal. But unfortunately, you know, if we keep trying to express it, in the same ways, you know, it doesn't always work. So we have to find, you know, fresh ways of experiencing these fundamental deep truths. Right. Yeah, I think it's happened. You see, it has happened, you know, throughout history, right. I think in the early days of Islam, it was very much based upon knowledge, and
studying and learning Hadith. And studying. This was a itself was a spiritual experience. You know, people may think it's tough. And I think that takes, I mean, it takes out a bit of the spirituality when you just go on your phone and find a narration, as opposed to leaving your wife and children going on a horse. Absolutely. Absolutely. That's the you see, that's the thing is that knowledge, I guess what happened is knowledge became so accessible. You know, once the Hadith books were collected, you know, before it was people would travel 1000s of miles to get one Hadith, to just listen to Hadith being narrated, and to try and, you know, so there's your flow state taking place
right there, right. But now, he's open a book late, like you said, you don't like back in the days, I always tell everyone studying, you know, giving talks and lectures is a whole different thing. We didn't, we couldn't just search on the internet, you had to buy the books and read them cover to cover and know the books. And then you have to be able to pick those books and find what you were looking for. Right? So now it's just like you do a Google search, right? And hamdulillah most of the time, someone's already done a lecture on it.
It's like, you know, it's interesting, you say that shake because there's this concept that some
thinkers have put forward of information nihilism, that in age of digital information, we're actually overwhelmed. We get decision paralysis, information starts to become meaningless, because we can't figure out what's important, what's not. And it's almost like, you know, a meaningless jargon even though it's so rich. Yeah.
Yeah, it's true. I mean, you can see that, I mean, especially decision paralysis, and that, like that. The amount of information is just so huge. It's just overwhelming, right? It's very, very easy to get lost in it. But again, I think, you know, back to that topic of, you know, where do we find our flow state? Like, I guess that what happened is that, you know, you know, the scholarly tradition became very, you know, because people just arguing about my new show. I
details. And you know, so busy trying to find the shortest isn't out of a hadith and not even really caring what the Hadith actually said, right? So you can see within this environment, then the whole, you know, the whole road of concentrating on ibadah, you know, on vicar on, you know, renouncing the world living a simple life living in austere life. But, you know, I'm not saying there's not room for all of that there's room for still both of those things. But I think that, that there's, you know, we probably need to find different ways, you know, of,
you know, different ways of, of connecting to Allah subhanaw, taala. And flooding finding those flow states, I guess,
I think something here, I think, which is important to highlight is, you know, in the beginning of the talk Sheikh you spoke about, we want happiness, and how do we get happiness and, and just before you went into the conditions of flow state, which leads to happiness, you said something
interesting, in terms of actually one of the conditions about doing something that's a bit hard. Now, usually, when people think of happiness, they think of something that they're comfortable with. And one of the things that has been battered into me over the last couple of years by you directly. And the team wider team in IRA is, you know, get out of the tent, you know, you had you told the story of people who, you know, if only they went slightly further, they could have been saved, but instead they froze to death. And stop being comfortable. Step out of your comfort zone. Push yourself always to the edge of your capabilities, keep pushing yourself, keep growing. Absolutely.
And the thing is, the interesting is very interesting, right? Is that kids, you know, kids are famous for playing computer games and watching TV yet when they are, you know, analyze when their actual,
you know, like when they actually grade their feelings of happiness. Most kids, not all of them. But most kids will say that they do feel happier, and they feel a higher state, they don't actually write those experiences very highly in the happiness scales, although they spend most of their time doing that. What do they rate high on their head? And anyway, by the way, anyone who's got kids from the age of seven, right to teenagers will understand what is it like trying to get them out for a walk? What is it like trying to get them outside trying to do something other than sitting in front of their computers? But once they're there, you don't my kids, it's so funny, right? I take them for
these hikes, and I take them for these walks, and I get forced them to go outside. And at the end of it when they're in the car, and we're driving home, they're saying to me, JazakAllah Hey, you know, may Allah reward you with goodness. And I'm thinking,
like, you know, I just taught you that. I didn't really go to that, but you know, I put them through this, but they loved it, you know, they have this feeling and there's a buzz and everyone's feeling like, really, that they achieved something. Right. But it's, you know, the problem with it, is the initial effort is is required. That's the thing. It's that impetus, right? It's gaining that momentum, it's generating that effort, you know, in order to, you know, to do those activities, and that's part of what makes it satisfying. It's the same with praying five times a day, right? Yeah, the same, isn't it? Getting up for Fudger? You know, the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said,
you know, what did he say about fudgier and how he commended it and you know, when a person prays for God, you know, shaytaan blows three knots in you right? When you you wake up and you remember Allah one knot is undone, right you make will do the other night is undone. You pray your Salah, the third night is undone, and a person wakes up feeling refreshed and lively and whatever. But if you don't, you feel laksa days. So it takes effort, right? It takes effort to get up to say your prayers to leave everything aside and pray on time. But it's supremely satisfying, right? It is supremely satisfying mentally, mentally, spiritually, and so on and so forth. Right? So all of these things,
that's part of what optimal experiences, the fact that it takes effort is part of what makes it so special. If it's too easy, you wouldn't get that sense of satisfaction, but it really prevents people from even entering into the realm where they can have these flows experience flow experiences, is that inertia that initial inertia that you have to overcome, right? And this is goes back to what we talked about last week. This is where willpower discipline forming good habits right? You see, this is why you need to establish within your kids the habit of you know of prayers that habit or exercise, right, because it's then it becomes a lot easier.
for them to overcome that initial inertia, it becomes just like normal for them, right? I'm lucky, from a point of view of excellence, to be honest from but two angles handler, I've been very blessed. Number one, I was brought up in quite a religious environment, at least in my school, not in my home, but in my school, right. So I had some sort of religious discipline from my early life. Secondly, I come from a very sporty family, both my mom and dad were very sporty, right. And they just a habit of being outdoors playing sports. And at my school as well, it's like, for me, it's just like, I have to do it. It's like, you know, Alhamdulillah it's a blessing from Allah sponsor,
because I think those two things are very, very, you know, important for general human wellbeing and happiness, you know, and the ultimate Blessing has been guided to the true religion, which is Islam. Because, you know, you can have religion, but ultimately, if it's not,
if it's not really, you know, if that religion is leaving you almost with more questions than answers, right? Then, you know, you're not, you're still got that existential anxiety, don't you, bro? Right? You got that? You know, that ontological anxiety, that existential angst? Right? You know, maybe this is why many Muslims are suffering. They have many questions. And unfortunately, we don't have enough, you know, people who are trained to answer those questions. Yeah, I mean, it could be that. It also could simply be that, like you mentioned before, they haven't got themselves in a flow state spirituality in sport, the focusing on TDs issues, like, how many people in the cave
in the dog?
What's the point of the story? I want to ask you a question, because we have just a few minutes left, you have another live coming up.
The Baker was called the we can push a piece of cake. Piece of cake. Right. Okay. Yeah. With me and Dr. Abdullah bacon. Yeah. So the question I have for you to end upon is one of the things I've heard repeatedly, from liberals when they want to challenge religion, especially Islam is come to this way of liberalism, because you'll be free, things will be easier, things will be more comfortable, right? And then about Islam, and you get on tick tock, you get some atheists doing this as well, saying, look, it's so hard to get the job. Why do that? Why put yourself through these things? So how would you respond to that based upon I mean, everything I just said now is the response to that.
Right. And that is a complete failure to understand what fundamentally makes a human being happy.
That that's it liberalism, they don't understand. They don't understand happiness, they don't understand what human beings need, they don't understand and realize what are the true needs of human beings. And that is because they are blinded, right? By their limited, materialistic nihilistic approach, right? This is what it is that they're so rooted in their materialism, they're blinded, they just think that we're just sophisticated monkeys give us a banana, right? Give us some someone to have sex with, right? You know, keep us safe from the elements and we should be happy monkeys. Right? And it's just not the case at all. Right? Because why are people are so depressed.
Okay, so everything's easier. But I'm not happier. Right? I'm actually feeling more distressed. I'm feeling more lonely. I'm feeling more depressed. So what's the solution? I have to take these antidepressants, right? Go on Prozac. Take drugs, right? Is that Is this what they call their liberal paradise? It's not a paradise a flippin nightmare. Right? And it comes from a fundamental lack of understanding human nature. That's where it comes from. Human beings don't thrive. undertaking the easy with thrive by being on the very limits of our capabilities and pushing ourselves. Okay. That's what we need to do. Right.
so the soul mistaken. And like I said, this is this is you know, when you understand flow, you'll understand why religion needs to be organized. Right? That's why you know, that's the whole point of religion. Right? When people say, I don't like organized religion, it's like what like, you want to organize that's the whole point of it. Right? It's like you know, what you what do you want disorganized religion then yeah, yeah. Okay, so just like a shake we have it's been fascinating. Thanks for that. Just a few minutes before your either live stream six minutes. So where can they see the other live stream? The viewers can move over? I think it's I think it's Newcastle FM fast
FM. Yeah, fast FM.
Yeah, Newcastle fast FM. So it was Ramadan radio station. They just kept going until now. I think maybe until next vlog.
Although it will be soon upon us,
though we can find our flow state
salutely Absolutely. I have an idea to show inshallah
for hosting this morning. And bro, what's your latest?
Anything interesting on YouTube, your YouTube channel broke Darwin engine delusions? Well, I'm going to go live in an hour with the world's leading expert on orphan genes. And he's the guy who predicted it before anybody else in the world when everybody said he was mad, and yeah, we're gonna go live in an hour inshallah he was brutally predict. He predicted that
each organism has a genes which don't fit in, in in terms of common ancestors with chimpanzees or other things, right. And other scientists said this is a error. So this orphan genes, they're not real orphans, they do have ancestors. But he said no, and this is about 20 something years ago, and everybody was wrong. And he turned out to be right, that actually, each organism has often DNA, which doesn't fit in any other organism, which challenges the whole idea of universal common ancestry. Oh my gosh, I mean, that just sounds explosive bro.
Yeah, he's, he's got a PhD philosophy of biology.
And he is a known OT, amongst the Christian community. He isn't well known. Everybody within academia knows him. Thanks for the plug, by the way, bro. It's it's great. And you know your work is really amazing martial law, bro. Keep it up. Alhamdulillah I have to sort of catch up on that one has been a lot of catching up to do.
But there's nothing much
more they can do.