'Flow' & increasing enjoyment of life

For anyone interested if improving their enjoyment of life - then you need to understand what the mental state called 'flow' is all about - and look at how you can get more of it in your life. Without knowing the actual term for it, most of us do experience 'flow' to a greater or lesser extent, and probably some of our favourite and enjoyable hobbies are carried out whilst in a state of 'flow'. So what is flow? Wkipedia sums it up pretty well below:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, this positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields and it is shown that time spent in flow makes our lives more happy and successful.


Most of us have experienced at some point that state when we become completely lost in an activity, when our attention is fully focussed on a particular task and we become utterly lost in it and time seems to fall away.

According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, what we experience in that moment is known as flow, a state of complete immersion in an activity. He describes the mental state of flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost." 
Flow experiences can occur in different ways for different people. Some might experience flow while engaging in a sport such as skiing, tennis, soccer, dancing, or running. Others might have such an experience while engaged in a creative activity such as painting, drawing, or writing.

What factors contribute to Flow states?

There are ten factors that accompany the experience of flow, and for an activity to encourage a state of flow it should be:

  1. Doable and achievable
  2. Challenging - but our skill level is able to meet the challenge presented 
  3. Have clear goals that require specific responses
  4. Provide Immediate feedback
  5. Allow personal control over the situation and the outcome.
  6. Involve complete concentration and focused attention.
  7. Be intrinsically rewarding.
  8. Promote loss of feelings of self-consciousness and a feeling of serenity
  9. Timelessness; a distorted sense of time; feeling so focused on the present that you lose track of time passing.
  10. Lack of awareness of physical needs.

The Benefits of Flow

In addition to making activities more enjoyable, flow has a number of other benefits.

Increase life satisfaction:
Flow is an innately positive experience; it is known to "produce intense feelings of enjoyment". An experience that is so enjoyable should lead to positive affect and happiness in the long run. Also, Csikszentmihalyi stated that happiness is derived from personal development and growth – and flow situations permit the experience of personal development.

Improved performance:
Flow can lead to improved performance because when one is in a state of flow often they are in the process of mastering the task at hand

Growth & learning: 
Flow can also lead to further learning and skill development. Because the act of achieving flow indicates a strong mastery of a certain skill, the individual must continually seek new challenges and information in order to maintain this state.

Note: This article is largely a heavily edited and cut and paste job from the 2 links posted above. I just wanted to get down in as simple and straightforward way as possible what Flow is & it's benefits. I suggest you read 'Flow: The Psychology of Happiness: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness byMihaly Csikszentmihalyi to get a good understanding of the subject.
Stuart Hodgson is a freelance graphic designer with a passion & interest in health & well-being. His life's purpose is to simply try and Live Better. Stuart is also curator of a popular inspirational quotes website and if you like this blog then you'll probably enjoy the site - visit www.inspirational-quotes-about-life.net 

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