You’re running at a good pace, listening to music with a good beat, taking deep breaths, feeling the strength and energy in your body, and it feels good. Sure, it hasn’t been easy getting to this point, but you’re here now, and you feel pride in what you have accomplished by challenging yourself. You’re in flow. Whether you reach the experience of flow through recreational activities or work, it involves become so absorbed in what you are doing that you lose all track of time.
Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, one of the co-founders of Positive Psychology, wrote the book “Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience.” He also gave a TED Talk, “Flow, the Secret to Happiness.” He describes flow as “being completely involved in an activity for it’s own sake.” The time we spend in flow is an important component of happiness.
10 ways to increase the time spent in flow:
1. Have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. Set goals that are challenging, yet still attainable. Learn How to Set Goals with a free tutorial, and more with my “Get Goaling” ebook.
2. Find and use your strengths. Strengths include natural talents, skills you’ve developed, and character strengths that are important to you. The free ebook, How to Start a Fire (pdf) includes ways to identify strengths, and you can explore in more detail with the “On Purpose” course at Udemy.
3. Try new activities you might like and expand your comfort zone. While you might try different recreational activities, flow often comes while we are working on something. Savor the activity itself while engaged in it.
4. Look for the sweet spot where skill and challenge are in perfect balance. The article “Flow Makes Life Better” at success.com talks about the sweet spot and points out that it’s a moving target as skills increase.
5. Be ready to concentrate and focus your attention.
6. Design an environment that provides what you need. Listening to classical music or nature sounds can help focus.
7. Eliminate distractions and turn off alerts and notifications that might interrupt you. If thoughts about other things intrude, write them down on a notepad.
8. Become completely absorbed in the activity. When you lose all track of time you are on the right track.
9. Pay attention to the results to get immediate feedback.
10. Feel the intrinsic rewards of the activity.
Learn more about flow: