Flow- the mental state of being completely present and fully immersed in a task- is a strong contributor to creativity. When in flow, the creator and the universe become one, outside distractions recede from consciousness, and one’s mind is fully open and attuned to the act of creating. Since flow is so essential to creativity and well-being across many slices of life- from sports to music to physics to religion to spirituality to sex- it’s important that we learn more about the characteristics associated with flow so that we may all learn how to tap into this precious mental resource.
According to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the following three conditions are required for flow (being in the zone):
- One must be involved in an activity with a clear set of goals and progress. This adds direction and structure to the task.
- The task at hand must have clear and immediate feedback. This helps the person negotiate any changing demands and allows them to adjust their performance to maintain the flow state.
- One must have a good balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and their own perceived skills. One must have confidence in one’s ability to complete the task at hand.
The purpose of Csikszentmihalyi studies are to discover what makes people happy in general but let’s have a look at how we can apply this in real life.
It can take practice, but you’ll get better at it. Here are the key steps to achieving and benefiting from Flow:
- Choose work you love.
- Choose an important task.
- Make sure it’s challenging, but not too hard.
- Find your quiet, peak time.
- Clear away distractions.
- Learn to focus on that task for as long as possible.
- Enjoy yourself.
- Keep practicing.
- Reap the rewards. .
“To be able to concentrate for a considerable time is essential to difficult achievement.” – Bertrand Russell