“But anyone who has experienced flow knows that the deep enjoyment it provides requires an equal degree of disciplined concentration” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
The psychology of flow. Flow comes from motivated performance. It happens when you love what you are doing. Time flies. You lose track of it. You feel great. Totally satisfied. The complete human being.
Your absorption when you are in flow is total. It’s of a high quality. Much higher than watching a great TV show. A film in the cinema. A live football game. Or a stage play or show.
This spectator absorption is a pale shadow of flow. For you are not a spectator in flow. You actively use a creative ability. A talent you have developed. To a higher level than you usually develop talents. And one that totally absorbs you and satisfies you at a very deep level.
We experience flow when we are immersed in what we are doing. So much so that nothing else seems to matter. We rise to the challenge. Use our skills. To totally engage and focus on what we are doing.
We feel good. Relish the experience. Enjoy ourselves as long as the task lasts. And long afterwards as well. We carry this feeling of well-being into other areas of our lives.
We perform the task to the highest level of our ability. Enjoy the personal growth we get from it. And the new skills we develop in the process.
Our most enjoyable moments occur during flow. Even when we are going through a bad time. We can pick ourselves up to engage in flow. And enjoy the experience of doing so.
Each of us has the ability to experience flow. No matter how healthy or unhealthy we are. How well off or how poor we are. How able or how unable we are. Or how educated or uneducated we are.
Psychology of work flow
When we find flow at work we feel fulfilled and happy. Our work challenges us. Tests our skills. Engages our minds. And makes us happy.
We can also find flow in hobbies or pastimes. So if your job doesn’t give you flow. The trick is to develop a hobby that does. And put as much time as you possibly can into it.
Set yourself a goal to achieve a high level of flow. It will give you a sense of purpose. Help you to achieve flow. To create meaning. A real sense of purpose. And satisfaction. Rather than float aimlessly through life.
To experience the psychology of flow
Flow comes naturally to you when you use your strengths. So the first step on the road to flow. Is to find your strengths. What you are really good at. What you really enjoy doing. What will totally absorb you.
Don’t just look at your navel. Or go by your gut feeling. Reach outside yourself. Get expert advice. Believe it or not you can get it for free. Log on to the Authentic Happiness Inventory Questionnaire. Click on register. Complete the questionnaire. It takes about twenty-five minutes. Or get Martin Seligman’s book “Authentic Happiness” and complete the questionnaire on page 114.
Identify your five highest scoring strengths from your answers to this questionnaire. Which compares your answers to those of the thousands of other people who have taken the test. And puts your strengths in rank order from one to twenty-four. Your highest scoring strengths are your greatest strengths.
Look carefully at each of these five strengths. What ones stand out for you? You will find two or three that you are really comfortable with. Make a note of these. And sleep on it for a few days.
When you revisit them. You will know the strengths that are the real you. The ones most likely to give you flow. Begin to use them consciously. As often as you can. As soon as you begin to experience flow you will know you are on the right track.
If it doesn’t happen for you. Take another one of your strengths. And see how you fare out with it. Sooner or later you will strike oil. Your life will change for the better. And you will get what you want from it.