Getting into the state of Flow

Mindletic

2 min read

Have you ever been so engaged in an activity that you lost track of time?

If so, there is a chance you’ve experienced the state of flow. Flow is the mental state when a person is so immersed in the activity at hand, that they do not care about anything else. The activity itself is so pleasurable, that one takes part in it only for the experience of taking part in that activity.

However, losing track of time when scrolling through your phone does not apply here. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the most influential psychologists in the field of positive psychology, notes that there are certain criteria that define the state of flow:

  • You are completely immersed in the activity. It appears that the surroundings disappear.

  • You lose the track of time - it can either seem to speed up or slow down.

  • You have a strong feeling of clarity - you know how the task should be done and instantly receive feedback about your performance.

  • You have the skills necessary but it is still challenging enough to keep you focused on the task at hand.

  • The experience itself is so pleasurable that no external motivators are needed.

When do people tend to experience the state of flow?

According to Csikszentmihalyi, the concept of a flow state can be considered in all areas of life, where we talk about pleasurable experiences.

  • Taking part in sports.

  • Listening to music.

  • During sex.

  • While studying.

  • At work.

  • In creative hobbies etc.

How to get into the state of flow?

1. Take up an enjoyable activity that you are already skilled in.

2. Make a list of tasks that are neither too easy nor too challenging.

3. Set goals.

4. Minimize the distractions around you.

5. Dedicate time for the activity daily and make it more challenging over time.

The outcomes of experiencing flow

Whilst the main definition of flow outlines that the experience is pleasurable in itself, there is a number of further benefits associated with getting into the flow state, such as:

  • Increased concentration and performance;

  • Learning to stay focused for longer;

  • Increase in productivity;

  • Quicker improvements via constantly increased challenge;

  • Greater creativity and others.

One thing that is important to note is that the flow state in itself is neither good nor bad. Whilst it is sometimes suggested to be the way to eudaimonia (happiness associated with a sense of purpose or meaning in life), the flow state can be experienced during activities that might induce addictive behaviors, e.g. gambling or gaming. This can develop into a dependency to try to experience the state of flow by taking part in such behaviors that can induce risks to various areas of life. Hence it’s extremely important to work on your self-awareness and keep track of the effects these experiences are having on you.

If you’d like to learn more about flow, go to your Mindletic app (Learn -> Watch past events) and check out the event on Finding Your Flow with the Expert in Psychology of Flow & Happiness Sarah Gregg. 📲