FlowAugust 18th, 2012
tags: create

If it feels so good, why don't we do it more often?

What I'm talking about is flow, the Alpha brainwave state.

You've probably heard the term, but may not know exactly what it is and how to get into it. According to The Handbook of Positive Psychology, flow has the following characteristics:

-intense and focused concentration on what one is doing in the present moment

-merging of action and awareness

-loss of awareness of oneself as a social actor

-a sense that one can control their actions within the situation

-a sense that time has passed faster than normal

-experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding

Sounds like a great place, and it is. So I ask again, why don't we go there more often?

Well, for one thing, getting into the state of flow means finding an "intrinscally fragile" balance. If the activity is too challenging, we become anxious, if the activity isn't challenging enough, we get bored. Flow is a state of "optimal arousal". wink

And it doesn't come with just any challenging activity. It seems to be associated with activites we do for pure enjoyment; painting, chess, aethsetic experience, sports or writing. (I think I'd include Pinterest on this list). When we are fully focused on a challenge we feel confident we can meet, and the activity is one we enjoy, we get in the flow. This is the state I'm in every time I write one of these posts. I'm in search of 'right expression', listening, and everything else falls aways.

I'm talking about it, actually I'm advocating for it, because flow is the state we're looking for when we want to be creative.It's no accident that the concept was first studied after Csikszentmihalyi noticed that "when work on a painting was going well, the artist persisted single-mindedly, disregarding hunger, fatigue and discomfort."It's the Alpha state. It's the place where inspiration and new ideas are born. That's where we want to be.

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