One of the most famous books about positive psychology is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. It is written by Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi. The author of this book is currently considered to be one of the top authorities in positive psychology worldwide. He is known as Mr. C among the enthusiasts of this field of study. His teachings in the book and his lectures all promote the idea of people living a high quality life. He encourages his readers and listeners to transform their lives so that they are worth living. Mihaly teaches that a high quality life is made up of memorable moments of living. These are also known as moments of flow. According to the him, we are able to perform at our best during these moments. The author indicates that we can achieve this state in our personal and professional lives. In his book, Mihaly uses specific lessons to assist readers to achieve a state of flow and live highly satisfying lives. Read on to learn these lessons.
Establish some clear targets
One of the ways to achieve a state of flow is to have clear targets. These targets should be easily understandable, easy to describe and timely. In addition to that, these goals should also be achievable using your main skill-set or special ability. In addition to that, these goals should demand that you perform at the peak of your skills. Mihaly indicates that for you to achieve a state of flow, you need to be challenged enough to maximize focus on a task. As such, the targets that you set should demand this of you.
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Maintain concentration on the tasks at hand
A state of flow requires one main thing, complete focus on the task that you are performing. The task should also be in a limited field of skill. The combination of these two creates an opportunity for the state of flow to occur. Mihaly indicates that high levels of concentration stimulate the mind to go deeply into the task that one is performing. This further bolsters the state of flow.
Establish a state of no self-consciousness
Whenever you get into a state of flow, it is easy to feel as though you are losing track of time and consciousness. This is a clear indication that your mind and body are getting into the tune of the task you are performing. Mihaly refers to this as a combination of action and awareness. This is required for the state of flow to occur. In this state, time also becomes distorted. You are able to lose the sense of time and space. This also facilitates the state of flow and high quality results.
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Create a system of direct feedback that happens immediately
Every task where you expect to give some effort requires that you have a method of measuring your results. Mihaly indicates that a measuring system is necessary so as to achieve a state of flow. During the process of performing a certain action, you are bound to achieve some success and some failure too. This is so as to guide you on the actions and behavior that you need to adjust. Your method of measurement analyzes these ups and downs so as to assist you to get to a state of flow.
You should be intrinsically motivated
There are two main types of motivation. These are extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation comes from external sources while intrinsic motivation comes from one’s heart. A state of flow only occurs if you are intrinsically motivated. This is because the work in itself is rewarding to you. This makes you feel as though you are making no effort while you are working. The author of this book indicates that it also creates a sense of complete control over the task at hand. Therefore, if you ever feel totally motivated in a task, then you can easily achieve a state of flow in it.
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Lack of awareness of needs for your body
A state of flow normally takes up your mental and physical attention. As such, you are likely to find yourself in a state where you are totally absorbed in your task until you are unable to feel hunger, fatigue, thirst or even heat. A state of flow completely absorbs you and eliminates these feelings. As such, you should prepare yourself not to feel any of these conditions as you pursue a state of flow.
A unique balance between the task complexity and your level of skill must exist
This is the most important lesson from this book by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. For you to achieve a state of flow comfortably, the task that you are performing must give you an appropriate level of challenge to match the level of skill that you possess. If the challenge is more than you can perform, then you will find it too difficult and be unable to achieve a state of flow. On the other hand, if your skills are so much more than the challenge level of the task, then you will find it too easy and get bored quickly. As such, the author indicates that there should be a balance between these two factors.
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Create an environment that is conducive for total absorption
The level of focus and commitment that is required for the state of flow to occur needs an environment that is conducive for it to occur. This should be a place where you are comfortable and there are limited distractions for your mind. For example, it can be a library, an office, a lounge or your study room. The quality of limited distraction assists you to maintain complete focus on the task at hand. As such, you should create this form of environment so as to gain a state of flow.
The Important Take Away
Mihaly Csikszentmihaly indicates the importance of a state of flow in this book. He indicates that your ability to perform is greatly enhanced while you are in this state. The lessons indicated above can assist you to understand the state of flow much more than ever before. As such, you can achieve it at will and enjoy a better quality of life.
You can get Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience here.