Go with the Flow: Success awaits those who ride the wave

Flow. It is the phenomenon of optimal experience. It is when one lies within a deeply satisfied state of consciousness. It is when a person loses sense of time, forgets their other worries and feels totally engaged in the task at hand. Implementing the elements of flow can help you create the best possible experiences for yourself, regardless of how mundane a task may appear at first.

The theory of flow formed as a result of Croatian psychologist, Dr. Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s life work. He believes there is much to be accomplished in preventative medicine by learning about the functions of happiness in the brain, rather than mental disorders of the brain. This led to the formulation of the flow theory and the theory that a person possess control over this positive state.

There are several key elements which are required to create a flow experience, and this article will work to explain a few of the most important ones. Challenge is one of these important elements. . As one enters the flow channel, the challenges they face excite them, making them eager to succeed. However, when the challenge is overcome, one most likely falls out of the flow channel because the challenge no longer exists in proportion to their ability. This creates a delicate balance between anxiety, boredom and flow. This concept also explains why flow creates opportunity for self growth and discovery. Once one task loses its complexity and appeal, one must move on to find something more complex or exciting; therefore expanding the capabilities of a person and revealing new interests and inclinations.

Second is complete emersion in the task at hand. When a task demands all of one’s psychic energy, or attention, there is no energy left to focus on problems outside of that task. For example, as a rock climber scales a mountain, his or her mind is fully absorbed into the task of climbing. The climber stops imagining his or herself as separate from the task, but begins to feel as if his or her body has been programmed to climb.

Third is the loss of self consciousness. This element ensues through the flow experience and is difficult to control. It is similar to the second element in that it typically happens when no psychic energy is left to think of oneself. However, one can work to attain stronger confidence or a lack of concern for opinions, which will impede self conscious thoughts from seeping into the mind and preserve psychic energy.

Next, a flow experience requires clear goals and feedback. Small goals can be set inside of any activity, making that activity very rewarding if one succeeds. For example, while exercising, one can set a goal as to the number of reps to do, the amount of weight to lift, the time in which to run and so on. A chess player can set goals for himself as he works his way across the board. A gardener can set goals as to what she wants to produce in a given season. Feedback is also important because it provides affirmation or guidance during a task. With feedback, one can become better at the task at hand.

With this knowledge and the ability to control one’s positive state of mind, every experience can improve. Implementing the theory of flow into one’s life will bring immeasurable benefits. Doing so defies social norms and requires uncanny self discipline. However, the added value to life experiences is immeasurable. Inside the stream of experience lies great moments to be seized. The only thing left to do is reach out into the tide take hold of them.


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