Would finding your "flow" be a way to be happy?
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
In our quest for happiness, we must find those moments that both stimulate and challenge us, that bring us to life and also give us joy.
Have you ever found yourself so focused and engaged in an activity that you have forgotten about yourself, all your attention being focused on the task at hand? If so, you have experienced the state of flow. Living a moment of “flow” is entering a period of high productivity mixed with pleasure and during which time seems to slow down or even stop. We are carried away in a flood of joy, a sort of drunkenness of the moment. When we integrate into our existence activities that allow us to immerse ourselves in the “flow”, we increase our well-being, we are happier and also more efficient.
WHAT IS "FLOW"?
We reach the state of "flow" when we embark on an immersive activity, focused on the present moment, which absorbs the individual to the point of making him lose the notion of time. The activity requires concentration, but it is captivating and enjoyable. As the objectives of the activity are attainable and clear, it requires a level of effort (challenge) and competence just enough to feel motivated and stimulated. In other words, we manage to experience “flow” when we are familiar with what we do and we have great skills to achieve it. “Flow” cannot be achieved when a new task is performed, as it takes a lot of effort.
We could also call the “Flow” a channel, a tunnel, or even the energy in which we enter and which plunges a person into an almost second state, because we act unconsciously. We are part of what we do. We often refer to it by using the expression “to be in the zone”.
“BEING IN THE ZONE” HAS A BENEFICIAL EFFECT
In concrete terms, finding your “flow” is doing an activity that we are passionate about and that challenges us at the same time. Whether it is through an intellectual, a physical or a creative occupation, in our leisure or work time, “being in the zone” is a rewarding experience that makes us feel good and helps us to flourish.
These moments when I experienced the flow take me back to my salsa parties. The challenge in dance was for me to adapt to different partners and my skills were sufficient to follow them regardless of their level. To this was added the music, the exciting rhythm of salsa that amplified the experience, accentuating my joy. It was almost exhilarating for me and after those evenings, there was no tension in me. I felt good. The additional benefit that I find in being in the “zone” in a social activity is that the happiness experienced is shared.
Think of what can put you in this state, is it a game, a sport, do some crafts, play an instrument, write, paint? This must be an activity that is a source of satisfaction for you and in which you have control. Next time you are in the zone, observe if after the activity you have a feeling of well-being and happiness.
"Flow is one of the major ways that humans have discovered how to have a happy life."
THE STATE OF FLOW INCREASES PERFORMANCE
When you’re in the zone, you’re in optimal performance. The flow is an optimal positive and rewarding experience that increases the skill level of the person who does it. There are no sources of distraction and feedback on progress is immediate. In the case of my example with salsa, the evaluation of my progress was manifested by the fluidity with which I was able to follow a partner and to continuously chain the movements that he led me to do, and that I could not anticipate. One becomes more efficient in the accomplishment of the task, and this is the reason why reaching the state of flow in the workplace increases the productivity of the worker. The same applies to the sport community, where access to this condition allows the athlete to perform better.
By doing a web search, you will find tips for experiencing “flow” and you will discover the model developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the psychologist behind the concept. The people he interviewed in his study compared their state of “optimal experience” to that of being carried as one is by the current of a river. That is where he drew the term “flow”.
If you are able to experience it regularly, you will add cheerfulness to your life. If you have found your “flow”, tell me, as a comment, what is the activity that brings you into the zone.
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(Ma qualité de vie means My quality of life in French.)
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