In my flourishing workshops and courses on happiness, I almost always cover the concept of FLOW.
It is a fact that people who have a high level of happiness and well-being experience FLOW on a regular basis.
So what do I mean by this? Basically, flow occurs when we are highly focused and engaged in an activity. It transpires when time seems to stand still because we are fully absorbed with what we are doing. It also happens when our greatest strengths and talents are in use in order to solve a challenge. The concept of “flow” is often featured as it relates to creativity.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist who has conducted numerous studies on flow, has noted that the primary elements of a flow state include:
- Intense focus and concentration
- A loss of self-consciousness
- A sense that one will be able to handle and respond to whatever occurs next
- A sense that time has passed more quickly or slowly than normal; and
- A belief that the experience is rewarding, regardless of the outcome
Csikszentmihalyi suggests that flow can occur in everyday life, particularly if we are clear on the goal first and if we are using our natural abilities. It can also deter anxiety and boredom. Some people engage in hobbies to experience the state of flow. Flow also occurs quite a bit at work (more often than not!). And even though flow is more often experienced in the workplace, people are more motivated with leisure activities over work. (Hmmmmm…)
Flow is similar to what athletes call being “in the zone.” The flow and the enjoyment does not come necessarily with what the activity is, but more in how it is done.
Note! Since flow occurs when we are using our strengths to solve a challenge, if the challenge at hand exceeds our perceived capabilities, we can become anxious. A balance must also exist in that if we're engaged in a “harmonious passion,” we are more likely to experience flow and well-being; however, if the passion is an “obsession,” we are less likely to experience flow.
I encourage you to determine what type of activities get you to experience a flow state. Then you can consciously choose to participate in activities that incorporate flow in order to boost their overall well-being. As flow continues to be focused on a larger scale, the overall well-being of individuals of all ages will continue to flourish to give a sense of hope, decrease stress and enhance wellness!