I was first introduced to the concept of FLOW during my Master’s program while taking a class on Creativity. We were asked to read Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. Although laborious to read at times, I ended up being thoroughly enchanted with this book. The concept of FLOW has stuck with me ever since, coming to idealize a Utopic state of being for which I am constantly striving.
Before I continue, I’d like to start by defining what FLOW is. According to Csikszentmihaly, FLOW is a state of heightened focus and immersion in creative activities such as art, play and work. Flow is hard to mold into a 10-word definition; it lends itself more freely to the realm of feeling or “being”. In the TED talk shared below, Csikszentmihaly lists seven characteristics that are always present when FLOW is happening. Here is the list he shares:
What does FLOW feel like?
- Being completely involved in what you’re doing – focused, concentrating.
- Feeling a sense of ecstasy – being outside of everyday reality, disconnected from the experience that’s happening to you, watching it from above.
- Great inner clarity – knowing exactly what needs to be done and how well you’re doing at it.
- Knowing that the activity is do-able, that your skills are adequate for the task.
- Having a sense of serenity – no worries about oneself. A feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of ego.
- Flow is timeless. It is thoroughly focused on the present and hours seem to pass in minutes.
- Flow is intrinsically motivated – whatever produces flow becomes its own reward.
In the past few weeks as I’ve struggled to make sense of big questions like “What contributes to a life worth living?” and “How do I measure my intrinsic value?” I keep coming back to the idea of FLOW, which appears to lie at the heart of these questions. It seems that if I could better understand my own FLOW state and engineer my life in a way such that I lived in FLOW for the majority of the day that these questions would answer themselves.
In an attempt to understand my own FLOW state better, would you kindly share what you know about yours? Namely,
- What are you doing when FLOW sets in?
- How long does it last?
- What does it feel like?
- Can you control the frequency with which it happens?
Thanks in advance for helping me explore this topic! I am thankful that I have you to turn to…