Chasing After Flow

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What is Flow?


From wikipedia:

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, the positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.

According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-mindedimmersionand represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task[2] although flow is also described (below) as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.

Buzz terms for this or similar mental states include: to be in the momentpresentin the zoneon a roll,wired inin the grooveon firein tunecentered, or singularly focused.






  1. marlajayne says:

    I’ve always loved this concept, even before I knew it had a name! I remember observing a groundkeeper at the school where I used to work who would be so involved in what he was doing that he didn’t even notice people walking by or time passing.

    • EricaK says:

      I too experienced it without knowing what it was. Growing up, I was very involved in dance – an experience that can easily stimulate flow. I realized as a college student that getting engrossed in my studies was similar to that feeling of losing all sense of time during a rehearsal. As I reflected, I could then recall times as a child losing myself in a book too, another kind of flow-feeling (I recall reading a novel in the middle of summer and shivering with cold – in the story the characters had been trapped in a blizzard -, then I looked out the window at the sunshine and felt an instant moment of confusion – was I hot or cold? What time was it, what day? I had lost all sense of “now” while reading!). Its no wonder then I stayed in school for the long haul, where I still study and perform today (albeit my performances these days are really teaching moments, not dancing – in my adulthood my early dancing escapades left me with arthritis) and still experience flow. It’s lovely when work can be something to deeply enjoy as well (noting however, that not all aspect of my work stimulate flow, but some do, and that’s enough!).

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