The Flow State

The Flow State

The flow state has been known to be the optimal state of consciousness where an individual is able to feel their best and also perform their best. It has also been called being “in-the-zone”, where it may also be explained as the psychological state of function in which an individual is able to execute an activity while they are completely engrossed in a mood of thrilled concentration, complete participation and gratification in the process or activity. The individual is normally just completely immersed in what they are doing making them lose the essence of time and space.

Components of Flow State

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was a Hungarian psychologist who pioneered the field of research into the flow state and who first coined the term “flow state” in the 1970s.  According to Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced “cheek-sent-me-high’’), flow state is normally identified by various factors which may appear independent of each other, but only when combined create the flow experience. The elements include:

  • The unification of action and awareness
  • The loss of insightful self-consciousness
  • Having a sense of personal control or agency over an activity
  • Having a deep and focused absorption on the present moment
  • Being able to experience the activity as naturally satisfying, which is also known as autotelic experience
  • Distortion of temporal experience, as an individual’s personal knowledge of time is altered.

In addition, there are another three components that were connoted by psychologist Kendra Cherry, which include:

  •  Instant reaction
  •  Having the feeling that one has the potential to thrive
  •  Feeling so involved in the experience that one tends to neglect other needs   such as eating or grooming.

How Can Flow Be Achieved?

According to research done by Csikszentmihalyi, flow state may be achieved in situations where an individual is completely immersed in the moment and the task they are performing.

In addition, Csikszentmihalyi also explains that, in the situation whereby a challenge is too low, one may trigger flow by increasing the challenge and if a challenge is too complicated, they may trigger the flow by learning and acquiring new skills to help solve the challenge. This is achieved by one allowing themselves to be pushed out of their comfort zone, forcing themselves to achieve a goal, not losing focus, remaining determined and teaching themselves creative skills to increase the quality of work and life.

How flow can help you perform better?

Taking the concepts of the flow state and applying this to every aspect of your life can have significant benefits.  When you are in the flow state, you are able to think clearer and make better decisions.  If you are trying to stick to your diet or score a higher grade on your next exam, use the flow state to build the right habits to make better decisions.