A flow state is where you’re in the zone, fully absorbed in whatever activity you’re in. You lose track of time and you’re fully present.
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: flow for it’s own sake
- Epictetus: desire things as they are
- Benjamin Hardy: live your entire life in flow
- Rumi: Be in love
- Reference and Resources
The key to flow is to pursue an activity for its own sake, not for the rewards it brings.
Optimal states of performance
In Csikszentmihalyi's studies people described their 'flow states' as those instances when their work simply flowed out of them without much effort. These were their optimal states of performance.
A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.
Reading books creates flow
It was found that the more often people report reading books, the more flow experiences they claim to have, while the opposite trend was found for watching television.
Using our physical and mental resources to experience flow
The tremendous leisure industry that has arisen in the last few generations has been designed to help fill free time with enjoyable experiences.
Nevertheless, instead of using our physical and mental resources to experience flow, most of us spend many hours each week watching celebrated athletes playing in enormous stadiums. Instead of making music, we listen to platinum records cut by millionaire musicians.
Instead of making art, we go to admire paintings that brought in the highest bids at the latest auction.
We do not run risks acting on our beliefs, but occupy hours each day watching actors who pretend to have adventures, engaged in mock-meaningful action.
Deep flow requires deep concentration
But anyone who has experienced flow knows that the deep enjoyment it provides requires an equal degree of disciplined concentration.
Flow increases the strength and complexity of the self
The flow experience, like everything else, is not “good” in an absolute sense. It is good only in that it has the potential to make life more rich, intense, and meaningful; it is good because it increases the strength and complexity of the self.
Bringing order to the contents of the mind
Creating meaning involves bringing order to the contents of the mind by integrating one’s actions into a unified flow experience.
Optimal experience is thus something we make happen
The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen.
Being up to your individual challenge
Flow occurs when your skill level and the challenge at hand are equal. As Rumi wrote, Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.
Optimal experience is thus something we make happen.
To make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it occurs.
We learn to desire that things should be exactly as they are
We will always be happy, he argued, if we learn to desire that things should be exactly as they are.
Some things in the world are up to us, while others are not
Some things in the world are up to us, while others are not. Up to us are our faculties of judgment, motivation, desire, and aversion—in short, everything that is our own doing.
Not up to us are our body and property, our reputations, and our official positions—in short, everything that is not our own doing.
Wish that events happen as they do happen
Demand not that events should happen as you wish; but wish them to happen as they do happen, and your life will be serene. To make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it occurs.
Act in accordance with the laws of nature
Don’t try to make your own rules. Conduct yourself in all matters, grand and public or small and domestic, in accordance with the laws of nature. Harmonizing your will with nature should be your utmost ideal. Where do you practice this ideal? In the particulars of your own daily life with its uniquely personal tasks and duties.
When you carry out your tasks, such as taking a bath, do so—to the best of your ability—in harmony with nature. When you eat, do so—to the best of your ability—in harmony with nature, and so on.
It is not so much what you are doing as how you are doing it. When we properly understand and live by this principle, while difficulties arise—for they are part of the divine order too—inner peace will still be possible.
Failing to obtain the object of his desire is disappointed, and incurring the object of our aversion wretched
Remember that following desire promises the attainment of that of which you are desirous; and aversion promises the avoiding that to which you are averse. However, he who fails to obtain the object of his desire is disappointed, and he who incurs the object of his aversion wretched.
If, then, you confine your aversion to those objects only which are contrary to the natural use of your faculties, which you have in your own control, you will never incur anything to which you are averse.
But if you are averse to sickness, or death, or poverty, you will be wretched. Remove aversion, then, from all things that are not in our control, and transfer it to things contrary to the nature of what is in our control.
Go with the flow.
And here’s the truth: You can live your entire life in flow. It turns out, being in flow isn’t that big of a mystery.
A “flow state” is where you’re in the zone
In positive psychology, a “flow state” is where you’re “in the zone,” fully absorbed in whatever activity you’re in. You lose track of time and you’re fully present.
Having ONE OUTCOME at any given time is the ultimate flow trigger
There are many “flow triggers,” such as being in various types of environments, having short deadlines, having high consequence for failure, etc. But there’s one flow trigger that is more important than anything else.
And that’s having ONE OUTCOME that you’re seeking at any given time. For example, right now I’m writing this article. The ONE OUTCOME I have, for this moment, is to finish this article. If I stay focused on that ONE OUTCOME, then I’ll stay in flow until this article is done.
When you accomplish one thing at a time, you’re giving your best to that thing. You’re not stressed. You’re present and in flow. As a result, you actually accomplish WAY MORE.
Being in “flow” is crucial to high-performance and creativity. It’s crucial to being happy. It’s crucial to social connection. Benjamin Hardy
A wealth you cannot imagine flows through you.
Flow between wisdom and love
Wisdom tells us we are not worthy; Love tells us we are. My life flows between the two.
Accept your troubles
The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door will open.
Be drawn by what you love
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.
Flow down and down
Flow down and down in always widening rings of being.
Your heart knows the way
Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction.
Be in love
Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.
Act on your desire for some particular work
Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.
We carry inside us the wonders we seek outside us.
References and Resources
Read attentively— do not to be satisfiedwith just getting the gist of it.
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