Go with the Flow

Go With the Flow

I’ve just finished reading ‘Flow’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Thankfully the book title is well known enough in personal development circles to simply refer to it by its title. But for those of you eager to impress, it’s ‘Mike Chicks-sent-me-high’, apparently.

Not the easiest name to say and not the easiest book to read. A little on the dry side for me, but nevertheless filled with fascinating insights into how to achieve optimal experience in everyday life.

So, what is Flow?

Flow is an inner experience that refers to a state of mindful challenge. It’s what happens when you’re so absorbed in something that you lose all track of time. Your energy remains high and you’re simply flowing through your experience without pause.

Attached, yet detached

In the Flow state you are essentially controlling consciousness. Not in the Buddhist way of complete detachment from your worldly senses, but in a focused, attentive way in which you involve yourself in both your experience and the environment around you.

I see it as being attached enough to hold your inner goal and outer surroundings in mind, yet detached enough to allow yourself to experience the moment fully as it happens with no distraction from irrelevant stimuli.

How can we cultivate Flow?

According to Mike, Flow is best experienced in activities that have the right balance of challenge and enjoyment. So, set goals that are a stretch but reachable, as well as enjoyable to pursue, and let the Flow flow.

“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.” ― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

To further maximise Flow experiences it helps if they are connected to a greater sense of purpose. A life theme, if you like, that guides your thoughts, choices and actions. When you tap into your purpose you allow Flow states to more easily arise as you focus on activities and experiences that bring you challenge and enjoyment and contribute to generating this meaning in your life.

So, did I enter Flow reading this book? Maybe, for brief moments.

Did I enter Flow writing this blog post?

Just the right amount of challenge and enjoyment? Check! Focused on my inner goal to write my blog, yet aware of my environment, my future audience? Check! Fulfilling my greater purpose of empowering others to find happiness and high performance? Check! Yes, I Flowed!

Further resources

TED Talk
Flow Book

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