Last month I talked about the value of regularly obtaining a FLOW state. This month I will explain how to do it.
The majority of people diffuse their attention in hundreds of random ways. Those who flow, focus their attention intentionally upon the task at hand. It really amounts to knowing your goal, concentrating on it, remaining determined, and having the self-discipline to complete what you are doing.
You create yourself by how you invest your energy. When it is under control your attention is focused. Attention is your most important tool in the task of improving the quality of your experience.
1. Choose a task that you have a good chance of completing.
2. You need the ability to focus your concentration upon the task at hand (a list of CDs that will help is listed at the end).
3. Clear goals are necessary, allowing you to focus your concentration.
4. The task provides feedback, which allows you to focus your concentration.
5. You get so involved in the task that you forget about everything else.
6. The task allows you to exercise a sense of control over your actions.
7. You become so focused on the task that self-concern disappears. (Your sense of self returns, stronger than ever after the flow experience is completed.)
8. You lose your sense of time; hours seems to pass in minutes, minutes can stretch out and seem like hours.
The combination of these factors causes a sense of deep enjoyment that is intensely gratifying. With this knowledge, it’s possible to achieve control of consciousness and turn even routine tasks into an experience of flow.
Remember, flow is when all your relevant skills are needed to cope with the challenges of a task, and you become completely absorbed by the activity. No attention is left to process any information but what the activity offers.
Those who naturally experience flow appear to have an “autotelic” self. The word is made up of two Greek words meaning “self goal.” Most people have goals that are shaped by biological needs and social conventions. In other words, their goals are generated externally. Those with an autotelic self have self-contained goals, and they accept few if any goals from outside themselves. They aren’t bored, seldom experience anxiety, and easily translate threats into challenges, thus maintaining inner harmony.
An important aspect of an autotelic self is the development of the self-discipline necessary to sustain your involvement until you accomplish your goal. Finally, you must learn to enjoy the immediate experience -- live in the now while working for the accomplishment of the goal in the future.
Once you are flowing, the experience drives you on to more creativity and achievement. The development of increasingly refined skills to sustain enjoyment is the actual power behind the evolution of culture.
If this short synopsis of the flow experience is intriguing to you, I suggest you read Csikszentmihalyi’s book, “FLOW” (Harper Perennial Books)
Peace and Light,
Programs to help generate the "Flow" while doing other things: