Throughout the last month or so I’ve been writing a lot about Flow States – what they are, how to achieve them, what is going on in the brain, and more.
It’s become a recent passion of mine because it explains many of the times that I have produced my best work. It also explains some of the most memorable and joyous experiences I’ve had in life.
But one of the problems that I see in the pursuit of flow states is that it is looked at as yet another means of increasing productivity, output, and overall performance.
In today’s “optimization” oriented world, everyone is looking for their next performance enhancement. The next “hack” to help them do more in less time with less effort….and flow states are just another one of the tools in the toolkit.
And that’s fine. I get it. We all want to perform better and be more productive while eliminating the stress.
But personally – if that’s all you’re in it for – if you’re only pursuing a flow state so that you can be more productive – you’re doing it all for the wrong reasons.
More important than performance and productivity is that flow is beautiful because it MAKES US HAPPY! Flow gives us JOY!
The originator of the term “Flow” was Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Over the course of 20 years he interviewed people from USA, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Australia, a variety of European countries, and even Navajo reservations. He interviewed artists, musicians, business professionals, barbers, handymen and construction workers.
Across all of these cultures and professions he observed the same thing – he discovered that the happiest people on earth, the ones who felt their lives had the most meaning, were those who had the most flow in their lives.
So while Csikszentmihalyi originally started studying flow to observe the benefits in performance, he actually found that it was a gateway to living a happier, more meaningful, and more fulfilling life.
For example, in one of his studies, 250 “high-flow” and “low-flow” teenagers were asked to report on their feelings and activities at regular intervals. The high-flow teenagers on average reported more time spent on “active leisure” activities such as hobbies, sports and homework. The high-flow teenagers also measured higher levels of self-esteem and engagement. The high-flow kids end up having greater long term happiness as well as success in school, social relationships and careers.”
Let’s review – the teenagers who spent the most time in high-flow activities had higher self esteem and greater long term happiness and overall success in life.
The greatest by-product of flow states are are that it can make you a happier and healthier person.
THAT is the real reason why you should be pursuing flow states.
That’s it. That’s all I have to say on this topic. I’m not going to throw a bunch of studies at you because that’s what your over-optimized mind wants to see.
The only message I have to share is that the secret to living a happy and fulfilling life is to find the activities that give you joy, because joy gives you flow, and flow gives you more joy.
Life is simple. Find your flow and do it consistently as a priority.
If you want to learn more about how to cultivate flow in your life, you can read more here.
For now, I’m gonna get back to writing more, because it’s my flow 🙂