Flow has been defined as the state of being fully engaged and in the present, merging awareness and action. How would you like to increase the amount of flow in your life, to be “in the zone” more often? According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the renowned author and flow expert, there are four essential conditions for flow:
- Clear goals (for direction and structure, making it possible to perceive progress)
- Immediate, clear feedback (preferably from the activity itself: e.g. the PowerPoint presentation is completed)
- Passion (a no-brainer!)
- An appropriate level of difficulty (producing a balance between perceived challenges and perceived skills)
At the Coach Approach, we specialize in helping our clients form clear, specific goals which enable flow. If a goal is too easy it will lead to boredom and apathy; if it is too difficult it needs to be “chunked down” into manageable parts so that it becomes realistic and achievable. In other words, they are supported to move towards peak experience and peak performance. What can you do today to bring more flow into your life?
In the compelling and powerful words of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, often quoted as being the founder of the Positive Psychology movement, ‘Of all the virtues we can learn, no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transfer adversity into an enjoyable challenge.’
In his book FLOW, the psychology of optimal experience he tells incredible stories of how prisoners-of-war survive solitary confinement by creating mental challenges to control consciousness during unbelievable adversity. The more stressful the situation, the more important it is to define challenges to move towards.
What about you? When situations in life are somewhat out of your control what goals can you create to challenge yourself? Sign up for a 10km charity run, self-publish that e-book that’s inside of you, go down a dress size…
More words of wisdom from the man himself, ‘when adversity threatens to paralyze us, we need to reassert control by finding a new direction…, a direction that lies outside external forces.’
What goals can you put your attention on to counterbalance rising stress levels, discover happiness and improve the quality of your life?