Getting into the ‘Flow’

February 4, 2011 by  
Filed under blog

I recently sat down and re-read, for maybe the 6th or 7th time, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s fantastic book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. He has some very intriguing ideas and I wanted to share some them with you over the next few weeks.

First of all, the basic idea of the book and the theory he discusses is that we are happiest when we are in, what he calls, a state of ‘flow’. This is that moment when you become completely engrossed in what you are doing and everything else around you kind of disappears. Some people call it being in the zone or getting in a groove. But whatever it’s called, it is usually spoken of with fervor, excitement or longing and I think we’d all like to spend a lot more time there.

You can only be in flow, though if the task on hand is of particular interest to you and you have some level of skill to work with. Plus it needs to be challenging–nothing frustratingly hard, but challenging enough to motivate you to keep working at it. A natural interest combined with a testing of our skills gives us an intense sense of fulfillment, so much so that things like time, food, comfort, and even ego are lost. We get to a point where we do the task for the sake of the task and reach a state of productive harmony.

I’m thinking, though, you don’t have to get into the zone or a groove to make these ideas bring more happiness into your life on a regular basis. Whether it’s tasks you are accomplishing at your job, with your business, while working on a hobby or even fixing up the house you can develop your skills so that you do what you do well. Then challenge yourself and your skills. That same sense of fulfillment and happiness can be a part of your every day then, not just those super cool moments when you’re in the flow. But, of course, making it a goal to have more of those trance like flow moments would certainly make for a happier you as well.


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