Recently, I have found myself very interested in the concept of “Flow” and the works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is the state that one experiences when totally immersed in the moment – much like an athlete or a musician. In this state time and space are altered. Hours pass in what seems to be minutes, and skills and focus are optimized. Csikszentmihalyi focuses on how human beings can tap into this Flow state, and in doing so, improve the quality of life. Flow typically occurs you are challenged, have clear goals, and receive regular feedback as to performance. This can come from activities like working, playing music, competition in games, or engaging in conversation with friends or loved ones. If you are lucky you have about 70 years on this Earth. 30% of that is going to be spent asleep, and another 30% at work. That leaves a good chunk of time for you to decide how to use. The author asserts that to find happiness one should ideally align work with free time – finding ways to bring enjoyment into how you earn a living and thus blurring the line between work and play. Additionally, one should limit “passive leisure” activities like watching television or mindless media consumption in favor of more meaningful activities. He also recommends regular reflection on life to determine what activities are producing Flow for you and why. This allows you to focus on ways to continually improve the quality of life, and fully engage in what is important.
As I strive to align the demands of family, work, school, and personal growth, the Flow concept really resonate with me. It is a struggle to find a balance between future and present, personal and professional, growth and stability. I am now considering ways in which this concept of Flow applies to my life – the way in which I approach work, the way I interact with my family, and how I choose to spend my free time. I am working at truly engaging in life, becoming thoroughly focused on the moment and choosing what I will I will do to fill my days with creativity and true happiness.