Happy New Year! 2020

by Lee Santiva January. 01, 2020 400 views

Today is the first day of the year 2020.

Talleitspitz mountain peak in Tirol, Austria

Talleitspitz mountain peak in Tirol, Austria

The dawn of a new day, a new year, a new decade, and my new life.

Oetztaler mountains in Tirol, Austria at sunrise

Oetztaler mountains in Tirol, Austria at sunrise

Like fresh snow on a sunny, cloudless day, the first day of a new year is pristine and perfect, full of potential and promise.

Many people set goals and resolutions as a means to achieve happiness. They believe that once ... I lose weight, get over this emotional situation, make more money or get a better position, learn how to, get rid of ... then, I'll be happy.

Talleitspitz mountain peak and glaciers near the Austrian-Italian border

Talleitspitz mountain peak and glaciers near the Austrian-Italian border

It took decades for me to realize that goals and resolutions are not as important as the means to achieve them. It's not so much about reaching the peak but the experience of getting there. Like enjoying the view.

There's a German wisdom: "Der Weg ist das Ziel." The journey is all one really needs. There's research behind this.

Hiking the Weißkamm mountain range in Tirol, Austria

Hiking the Weißkamm mountain range in Tirol, Austria

The Hungarian-American psychologist and former head of psychology of the University of Chicago, Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, published his results in a best selling book Flow - the Psychology of the Optimal Experience in 1990, over thirty years ago.(*4) It's recommended reading for New Years :-)

Peaks of the Schnalskamm mountains in Tirol, Austria

Peaks of the Schnalskamm mountains in Tirol, Austria

In his book, Csíkszentmihályi outlines his theory that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow—a state of concentration characterized by complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. When in the flow state, the person is so fully immersed in what they are doing that nothing else seems to matter. The ego falls away and time flies.(*1)

Csikszentmihályi identified nine components required to achieve a flow state: (*2)

  1. There are clear goals every step of the way.
  2. There is immediate feedback to one’s actions.
  3. There is a balance between challenges and skills.
  4. Action and awareness are merged.
  5. Distractions are excluded from consciousness.
  6. There is no worry of failure.
  7. Self-consciousness disappears.
  8. The sense of time becomes distorted.
  9. The activity becomes an end in itself.

Basically, the flow state can only be achieved when performing a task which requires certain skills and there must be a balance between both skill level and challenge level. If the task is too easy or too difficult, flow cannot occur.

Leaf with frost

Leaf with frost

When I am capturing images, I am often completely in the Flow state. In fact, when I took these pictures I didn't notice the cold. Unfortunately, I also completely forgot that my husband was also there, freezing, because he could only stand around while waiting for me to finish. Bless his heart and thank you darling.

The 365 challenge helped me improve my photography and writing skills to a point where I can achieve the flow state when doing both. It makes me happy.

In my blog Farewell for Awhile I wrote about how I wanted to find my focus for my new life phase. How ironic. It was there the whole time. I couldn't see the tree because of the forest. "Everything you were looking for was right there with you all along."(*3)


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mihaly_Csikszentmihalyi
  2. https://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/mihaly-csikszentmihalyi/
  3. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/569623-everything-you-were-looking-for-was-right-there-with-you
  4. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38192754-flow?from_search=true&qid=xbElAsxXCJ&rank=2

Join the conversation
There are 14 comments , add yours!
Camellia Staab 7 months ago

Thoroughly savored this post Lee because it spoke to me all the way through. I have no doubt you will enjoy this new life of yours as I have been enjoying mine. Welcome to the flow smile

7 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Camellia Staab 7 months ago

Thank you Camellia I appreciate the feedback on the text, I‘m still trying to find my“voice“ the balance between third person reporting facts, directly speaking to the reader and sharing my own personal thoughts, so if it spoke to you  the whole way through then it was a seamless transition, which is good.
I‘m glad to hear you‘re having a good time, wish you more of the same in 2020!

7 months ago Edited
Buster Bruce 7 months ago

Happy New Year Lee! Beautiful images to start the new year

7 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Buster Bruce 7 months ago

Thanks so much Buster, I‘m glad you enjoyed them

7 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski 7 months ago

Lee, this is such a wonderful post, both the photos and your message - one we can all relate to on some level, I think. I'm so happy you shared your journey through PB. I have actually been thinking a lot about flow state lately and remember reading some excerpts of Csíkszentmihályi in grad school. Now I'm convinced it's time to revisit that reading! Thank you for the inspiration. Wishing you much peace and flow time for the coming year.
It's been a while since I've been in the mountains. I love how you captured the snow blowing around the peaks. Breathtaking!

7 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Bethany Plonski 7 months ago

Thank you Bethany! I‘m flattered that I could inspire and that you liked the photos. Nature always inspires me.
There‘s a great TED talk with Csiksmentmihalyi which is not such a big time commitment as reading the book.
Hope you are recovering well to enjoy 2020!

7 months ago Edited
Varsha Arun 7 months ago

Wish you a very happy and exciting new year!! Love the message conveyed here...and also the photos..

7 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Varsha Arun 7 months ago

Thank you Varsha! Nice to hear from you and the positive feedback on the post. I wish you the best for 2020 that you can find flow in photography if you haven‘t already…

7 months ago Edited
Antonio Gil 7 months ago

Happy New Year Lee. Loved this post, and the description of The Flow. Very interesting reading to start the year.

7 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Antonio Gil 7 months ago

Thank you Antonio! I appreciate the feedback that you enjoyed this post! Happy New Year and best wishes for 2020!

7 months ago Edited
Berckmans Peter 7 months, 1 week ago

First of all welcome in 2020. Have a good and healthy year. I can agree with this post.Life is for me the road travelled. The end goal is dead. Also when taking pictures ,I can come ,what I call, in the zone. Nice post

7 months, 1 week ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Berckmans Peter 7 months ago

Thank you Peter and I appreciate the feedback that you also experience this phenomenon. I wish you the same and as you wrote that last year was filled with obligations, I hope in 2020 you find more time for fun

7 months ago Edited
Benny Law 7 months, 1 week ago

Enjoy the Flow, Lee, and keep sharing the fruit with us. (You made me laugh out loud with your confession about leaving your husband freezing in the cold.smile)

7 months, 1 week ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Benny Law 7 months ago

Thanks Benny glad I could make you laugh, it seems you needed one with everything going on in your life. Hope 2020 will be better for you!

7 months ago Edited
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