Do you know about a concept called “flow”?
In this blog post, we would like to dig a little deeper into this world view, focusing on a book called "Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life".
The author of this book, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, says that “joy is the epitome of positive emotions.” It’s safe to say that humans will ultimately make every effort to find this feeling of "joy", as many thinkers since Aristotle have stated. The pursuit of wealth, health, and fame is no different.
But if we continue to make such efforts, will we ever truly be happy?
Far from making you happy, pursuing only wealth and fame will actually make you unhappy. It’s strange when you think about this logically.
If you don't put the effort into considering what it is you’re living for, then your experiences will be no more than superficial. In this state, you’ll only be able to achieve a small fraction of your true potential. The book starts with this style of introduction, and then goes on to introduce a higher dimension of joy known as “flow”.
Proposed by Csikszentmihalyi, flow is a psychological concept referring to the relaxed state we naturally achieve when our performance reaches its peak.
For athletes, this could be described as the “peak experience” or the “zone”, while for artists and musicians, it would be like a fountain of inspiration.
Gaming for 100 hours straight isn’t necessarily a bad thing
When you completely immerse yourself in something for an extended period of time, you might reach a state of ecstasy and experience a level of joy and excitement beyond words.
In order to reach a flow state with a deep sense of immersion, you need a job that allows you to demonstrate your ability and potential, without being overly focused on success or status.
It’s also important to give yourself a challenge. This will allow you to show your full potential and, using all your strength and heart, enter a flow state. In this state, we might have feelings and personal experiences that cannot normally be had.
This flow state is different from material gratification and pleasure. It's a calm yet powerful sensation that wells up from within your heart, and is said to be an internal skill that we hone through our experiences. It’s possible to experience a deep sense of joy when developing this skill, as well as when focusing on creative activities or devoting ourselves to work that allows us to achieve our true potential.
How to enter the flow state
When it comes to exercising, art, hobbies, or doing a job you like, it’s not that difficult to enter the flow state. By thinking of work as play and play as work, you can make the best of both.
It’s even possible to reach flow state within a group of people while eating a meal and such. If there are too many people, it will be difficult to feel a sense of unity, and if there are too few, there will be a lack of excitement and it will be difficult to challenge one another. As such, a good number would be around 4 or 5 people. When those with similar backgrounds and hobbies gather together, they can have a conversation and create a flow. A resonance flow is created when everyone gathers in one spot, and they each discuss their own ideas.
Three points to help create flow
1. Know your future plans
In order to improve concentration, it’s important to focus your attention on just one thing that aligns with your goals. If your attention is scattered here and there, thinking "I have to do that, oh, and this, too," then you won’t be able to focus on what you should actually be doing.
First, make a schedule for what you need to do. Think about what your priority is today, when you need to have it done by, and what you’ll do afterwards.
2. Remove obstacles
Before you start, remove any items that may interfere with your task. If you don't want to be distracted by any unexpected phone calls, turn off the notifications on your phone or leave it in a separate room. Also, get ready by gathering together all the things you need to work so that everything is within reach.
Whether or not you can achieve an intense concentration depends greatly on the environment and the space you create. The point is to try and avoid situations where you start working, only to realize you have forgotten something and have to leave the room to go and get it.
3. Switch on
Finally, give your brain a starting signal with a regular, feel-good routine. This could be drinking coffee, snacking on your favorite sweets, playing background music while you work, wearing headphones, standing up to take a deep breath, or even having a specific blanket or pillow with you—the switch that turns on your focus will depend on your brain type.
The important thing is to find something you like, and then dig deeper.
Keep thinking about what you’re able to devote yourself to, and take note. If you keep practicing over a long period of time, stimulating your potential, then the effects of flow will gradually become stronger. If you’re able to experience an inexpressible sense of fulfilment and satisfaction through flow, then this will give you the motivation you need to take the next step.