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Flow

The meaning of ‘flow’ is ‘stream’ in direct translation, but flow expresses this phenomenon more, that idea of time and space disappearing while you are preoccupied with an activity (this activity could be anything, e.g. reading, painting, riding on a bicycle, etc.). This activity becomes the source of your happiness or maybe this is your happiness.

 

Time stops, or at least slows down or become distorted. This phenomenon is well known in Eastern Philosophies, but the name ‘FLOW’ was coined by a Hungarian teacher and psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This phenomenon – being in harmony with the universe, becoming one with the universe, “creative trance” or unconditional, total immersion in happiness – has been researched by others (e.g. Maria Montessori), but Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was the one who unified the findings into an individual theory. This phenomenon is not conscious, but it can be influenced. The flow happens when our body (brain) and soul (spirit) are in optimal harmony. Our body operates at the top level and in high performance mode. Our brain is switched off while still sensing the outer world, but the emphasis is shifting away from the outer world. The outer world has less importance and the quintessence of the current activity, creativity, will have the first priority. This is similar to when you are reading a book and the outer world just disappears, we find ourselves in the book, but still sensing the outer world, we turn the page when we have read it and we drink water when we are thirsty.

flow

According to Csíkszentmihályi the flow can be recognised and even created consciously. He summarised in 8 bullet points the process of recognition and creation of the flow-experience :

• have clear goals,

• make sure that you receive feedback,

• select activities based on your skills or abilities (but just a little bit more difficult),

• have a clear mind,

• concentrate,

• switch off your self-consciousness,

• take control and

• notice if time changes (slowing down, getting faster, or when it stops)!

Constant experience of the flow will improve your life. Searching for happiness, or the ongoing experience of happiness, will lift us up to a higher level, therefore we can become more successful and satisfied. There are some investigations under progress regarding creating group flow-experience, which could even improve the economic life of a whole country. Unfortunately, nobody can be a prophet in their own country and this is the case here, at this time Csikszentmihaly is living and working on this phenomenon in California.

 
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