Happiness, Productivity, and the State of Flow

I first learned of the State of Flow when my son, Evan, discovered rock climbing as a freshman in college in Colorado. Knowing that I might find his new hobby rather terrifying, he sent an email describing his almost holy amazement over the encounter:

When I’m on the wall and my mind and body is telling me that I cannot go an inch higher, I go into a weird trance where every worldly problem and worry and stress literally cease to exist. Every fiber of my mind and body is connected to the rock and somehow I keep climbing higher. It’s a weird feeling, like the only thing that has, is, and will ever exist is the rock in front of me, there are zero distractions, and it’s an intense concentration I have never known before.

Evan’s climbing experience falls in step with psychologist Mihály Csikszentmihályi’s theory on happiness, creativity, and human fulfillment dubbed Flow or a “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” Interestingly, the activity is less important than the state of mind elicited by doing it and can be prompted by any number of pastimes — Evan experiences Flow while rock climbing, I know the feeling when creating art and skiing, my daughter enjoys it during a long run and while practicing yoga, and my husband enters the state when immersed in a challenging procedure at work. He appears to be in the State of Flow while watching the Oregon Ducks trounce an opponent but I’m not sure that counts.

Blogger Leo Babauta explains that when you encounter the State of Flow you are “completely focused on the task at hand; forget about yourself, about others, about the world around you; lose track of time; feel happy and in control; and become creative and productive.” Count yourself one of the fortunate few if your job kindles this enviable state, but too many people watch the clock until quittin’ time. ReimagineArt Mobile Art Studio to the rescue!

ReimagineArt’s thoughtfully designed art activities for the workplace expediently draw overtaxed or disengaged minds into the rejuvenating State of Flow by attuning our instruction and your art experience to approximate Csikszentmihályi‘s nine essentials for reaching the “mindful challenge” of Flow:

  1. There are clear goals every step of the way.
  2. There is immediate feedback to one’s actions.
  3. There is a balance between challenges and skills.
  4. Action and awareness are merged.
  5. Distractions are excluded from consciousness.
  6. There is no worry of failure.
  7. Self-consciousness disappears.
  8. The sense of time becomes distorted.
  9. The activity becomes an end in itself.

Treating your mind and body to this kind of break from the demands and challenges of work refreshes and recalibrates. Going to the State of Flow with your professional team or group of co-workers generates authentic connectivity that deepens relationships, increases understanding and appreciation for the ways and contributions of others, and brings pleasure back to work. See for yourself – you’ll become hooked on art as a conduit to the transportive State of Flow.

For more, go to Psychology Today and read Steven Kotler’s “Flow States and Creativity.”  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-playing-field/201402/flow-states-and-creativity


Works Cited:

Babauta, Leo. “9 Steps to Achieving Flow (and Happiness) in Your Work.” Zen Habits RSS. 29 Jan. 2008. Web. 6 Jan. 2016.

Csikszentmihályi, Mihály. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper & Row, 1990. Print.




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