The psychology of optimal experience: “Anyone who has experienced flow knows that the deep enjoyment it provides required an equal amount of disciplined concentration… thoughts, intentions, feelings and all the senses are focused on the same goal” (Flow, the Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihali Csikszentmihalyi) harper and Row 1990 p.41) “Whenever people were in flow, either at work or in leisure, they reported it as a much more positive experience that the times they were not in flow. When challenges and skills were both high, they felt happier, more cheerful, stronger, more active; they concentrated more; they felt more creative and satisfied” (p.159).
Excerpts from Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention
With Flow there are 9 components at work together:
A balance between challenges and skills
Action and awareness are merge i.e. there is a high level of concentration that is focused on what we are doing
Distracts are excluded from consciousness- Flow is the result of intense concentration the present which relieves us of the usual fears that cause depression and anxiety in everyday life
There is no fear of failure- in flow it is clear what has to be done and our skills are potentially adequate to the challenges
Self-conciousness disappears- we are too involved in what we are doing to care about protecting the ego
The sense of time becomes distorted (I.e we lose track of time)
The activity because autotelic- i.e. an end in itself, something worth doing for its own sake (Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Harper and Row, 1996, pp 111-113). There is “a sense of well-being and satisfaction when the task is completed” (IBID. P123.)
To cultivate a creative spirit:
Try to be surprised by something everyday
Try to surprise at least one person a day
Write down each day what surprised you and how you surprised others
When something sparks an interest, follow it
Wake up in the morning with a specific goal to look forward to
Learn to do something well so that it becomes enjoyable
Erect barriers against distractions; dig channels so that energy can flow more freely find ways to escape outside temptations and interruptions. This requires great discipline and one-mindedness
Carve out some time in your schedule when your creative energies are best
Make time for reflection and relaxation
Shape your space so it fits and nurtures and stimulates you. Keep that space organized and uncluttered
Start doing more of what you love - less of what you hate
Look at problems from as many viewpoints as possible
Find a way to express what moves you
Problem solve the issues in your life
Have as many different ideas as possible - think in a divergent mode
Cultivating skills to be focused and learning to be focused “A person in flow is completely focused. It is the full involvement of flow, rather than happiness, that makes for excellence in life”. - Mihali Csikszentmihalyi.
Engaging in challenges: can help one to focus on problem solving solutions, they are likely counselling and engage in tasks that they are able to focus on entirely.
Flow can also occur when workers are engaged in tasks: focus on enjoyable activities e.g. exercise and pleasant activities for health.
Flow can lead to improved performance: learn to perform well in your goals and activities.