Have you ever experienced that sense of lightness that comes while working on a special piece. There is such a race of ideas that nothing else count for the moment but the task at hand. I have had those moments but they are like the butterflies wings. Touch it and your fingers are colored with their skin dust. The Positive Psychology calls it as “Flow.”
Steven Kotler in his article “Flow States and Creativity” in Psychology Today, provides a technical definition of ‘Flow’ as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”
I found this state, whenever I have found myself just sufficiently challenged. At the same time, if few of the information were backed by my past experiences, then the combination is a killer one. Within this relative familiarity section I discover my inference of the self in slow disclosing pattern.
Flow according to me is something that happens to your state of being. It is like, I find myself inside a warp-hole where everything is about what I am doing. Somehow, I am accomplishing it but blocking rest of the noise and distraction of my reality. I become engrossed in my own little world that I have made for myself.
But generally a Flow State is a human experience that an employee goes through in professional place, while accomplishing a slightly beyond the reach of the employee’s limit challenge, with their entire focus of attention zeroed in on the task.
There are many books on the working of human brain that have explained how the various processes happen within the brain. Encyclopedia Britannica even goes to the extent of explaining that the brain processes less than 50 bits in a second.
Psychologists in their line of research have found that when a brain is engrossed completely to exclusion all other distraction, then the subject under study is experiencing the “Flow state.”
A Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who was the pioneer of Flow research has found such wealth of information about this state. He founded the Positive Psychology and propagated ‘Flow’ concepts. He began his research in 1975 and since then, much development in the research has happened.
What brings about this state? This state happens at what condition? These and other questions are far more interesting to note. The flow state needs certain individual’s internal physical and psychological weather condition to kick in.
He kick-started his tests with artists and creative types; later he expanded his research work towards other professions too. He used experience sampling method (ESM) to observe the subject under scrutiny.
It was in these tests that he came to know of High-flow and Low-flow states, where he also found out how these states influence his subject under study.
Csikszentmihalyi’s research had brought out the following six factors that result in the occurrence of flow in individuals:
- Completely intense focused concentration on the current moment
- Action and awareness become one
- Loss of reflective self-consciousness
- Complete control of the involved task
- Distortion of temporal experience
- Having an asautotelic or activity providing a intrinsically rewarding experience
He states in his book “Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life” that “if you are interested in something, you will focus on it, and if you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it. Many of the things we find interesting are not so by nature, but because we took the trouble of paying attention to them.”
In our work day we make a number of choices and decisions. The flow depends on what we choose to do and how we planned to perform it, this then would make our evaluation of our tasks as blur of events or almost art form of accomplishments.
Of late, I am watching the Flow word in my workplace application. My mind goes to the other meaning of the word Flow. When words “work” and “flow” combines in my brain I’m busy thinking about the flow happens within me.
When I get interested in the task I completely forget the office and people around. That kind of state, I actually don’t feel hunger either. I found the trick to be happy in my flow doing any type of writing tasks. The point is, the state of flow is an intense feeling that grips the experiencing person’s complete attention to exclusion of everything.
Within this state one could be close to the state of meditative silence. In this silence creativity can be nurtured and expanded to its relative stretch. Writing act is also a kind of experience that takes over all other distractions into its vortex of creative silence.
I usually have a set of activity such finding a uncluttered spot and use the same device to write. I would begin with reading up a little of the draft or old works to get into a swing. Once the mind kicks in I am ready to give free reign to my imagination.
I absolutely, love to be in that state and to explore until I feel content. Check out for yourself if you can find your flow in blogging or any writing activity!
Flow, the secret to happiness
Alex Vermeer, works for MIRI
Leo Babauta, Zen Writer from San Francisco
Pursuit of Happiness
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