Positive Psychologist Mihaly Csizentmihalyi describes the flow state as a state of mind where the person becomes fully immersed in an activity. These states are often associated with athletes, artists or scientists who are completely absorbed in a task in a way that allows them to perform optimally, but they can also be experienced during leisure time, work, or everyday tasks. Flow states can be experienced differently by different people. In general, it can feel like you lose sense of time and space, you are fully absorbed and singularly focused on the task or activity, and you feel at one with the experience. Some people describe it as "being in the zone." Feelings that you would normally experience, such as hunger, boredom, fatigue, or discomfort fade away. Experiencing flow is often accompanied by a feeling of accomplishment, a sense of meaningfulness or purpose, and elevated emotions. You are beyond distraction in this state. Attention and concentration are key, as is engaging in a task that is neither too easy nor too difficult. It requires a match between the individual's skill level and the level of challenge, which is why we don't often experience flow states during relaxation.
"The optimal state of inner experience is one in which there is order in consciousness. This happens when psychic energy - or attention- is invested in realistic goals, and when skills match the opportunities for action. The pursuit of a goal brings order in awareness because a person must concentrate attention on the task at hand and momentarily forget everything else."
- Mihaly Csizentmihalyi
There are numerous benefits to flow states, including: better emotional regulation, greater enjoyment and fulfillment, increased happiness, higher intrinsic motivation, learning and skill development, improved performance, increased levels of engagement, and more creativity.
This week I encourage you to think about what activities, creative endeavours, everyday tasks, or hobbies you have in your life that could potentially bring you into a flow state, and then endeavour to create that state for yourself. Remember that energy follows attention, and what we focus on is what we get more of, so lets make this week about focusing on where we want to go and how we want to be, instead of what we want to fix or get rid of.
"A person can make himself happy, or miserable, regardless of what is actually happening 'outside', just by changing the contents of consciousness. We all know individuals who can transform hopeless situations into challenges to be overcome, just through the force of their personalities. The ability to persevere despite obstacles and setbacks is the quality people most admire in others, and justly so; it is probably the most important trait not only for succeeding in life, but for enjoying it as well." - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Until next time!
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Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. Her modalities include coaching, therapy, Reiki and the Safe & Sound Protocol. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com