Sunday, September 16, 2007

What is Flow?

I was listening to NPR and heard a wonderful essay on doing things that one enjoys. It talked about various "hobbies" and that the person found that it would not be enjoyable if it was work. The person mentioned a theory about "flow" and talked about a Hungarian scientist that had done research on a way to live a better life.
"How to live life as a work of art, rather than as a chaotic response to external events." A good place to look for a definition of flow is in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book called Flow. He describes flow as "the way people describe their state of mind when consciousness is harmoniously ordered and they want to pursue whatever they are doing for its own sake." Flow is an optimal experience typically experienced during sports, games and hobbies. Athletes describe it as being in the zone. When flow occurs, you feel completely focused; your mind and body are working in harmony; you are using your whole self yet you don't feel overwhelmed. Time gets distorted and you experience life as full and intense. You feel joy, creativity, a total involvement in life.
I find this on days like today. I have been immersed in dyeing all morning, and suddenly realized that it was almost 1:30 p.m. I just ate a piece of cheese and drank a Coke. Maybe it will be a good day after all!
In simple terms the research showed that people were generally happy doing things and generally knew very little about what made them happy.
How does it feel to be in "the flow":
1. Completely involved, focused, concentrating-with this either due to innate curiosity or as the result of training.
2. Sense of ecstasy-of being outside everyday reality.
3. Great inner clarity-knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going.
4. Knowing the activity is doable-that the skills are adequate, and neither anxious or bored.
5. Sense of serenity-no worries about self, feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of ego-afterwards feeling of transcending ego in ways not thought possible.
6. Timeliness-thoroughly focused on present, don't notice time passing.
7. Intrinsic motivation-whatever produces "flow" becomes its own reward.

This last part was found on a web page They are not my words.

So keep on doing what you love. Knit, dye, spin, crochet, quilt, CREATE. I have to get back to the dyepot.


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