Flow State Of Mind
I didn’t really enjoy reading Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I found it too academic for my tastes, and my nightly reading became a struggle.
But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Flow since I finished reading it nearly two weeks ago. That’s the sign of a great book, if you ask me.
A lot of people have written about the flow state, and I’ve been aware of the concept as it applies to programming for the last few years. Most of my friends are developers, and as I understood it, flow was a state of mind in which you were fully engaged with the task at hand. And that’s true. Flow is when you are up to a challenge. It’s a state when engagement becomes so complete that work becomes indistinguishable from play.
Here’s Csikszentmihalyi giving a Ted Talk about Flow, and the psychology of happiness:
My main takeaway? Flow isn’t just for programming.
It’s a state that can be applied to any aspect of your life, and lately I’ve been actively applying the concepts of flow to my daily life.
...It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.
Flow can be applied to any task. It’s the point when work becomes indistinguishable from play, and leads to high productivity, happiness, and output. It’s absorption in the task at hand to the point you enjoy the task itself.
Consciously focusing on the task at hand, no matter how boring or distasteful, is having an enormous impact on my state of mind. I’m a natural optimist, and thinking about the concept of flow has made my daily life easier and more enjoyable.
Even when Miss Lady wants me to shovel the driveway and it’s 17 degrees outside. The task can be its own reward.