Flow, also referred to as the region, is the operational mental state in psychological terms, where a person undertaking an activity becomes completely involved in it, experiences an energized concentration, and deeply enjoys the role they participate in. A individual works away and experiences development while in the flow state while feeling completely absorbed. A lack of self-consciousness and movement are the basic elements of flow. The achievement of flow is generally referred to as being in the zone most of the time. The flow concept was developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi back in the year 1990 (Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi 239-40). Human beings have for many years worked extensively on finding ways to pursue their happiness and joy as long as it does not violate other’s rights. There is a significant relationship between the concept of flow and happiness. This paper will thus find what flow is, and its importance and how it contributes to the pursuit and attainment of happiness.
The Concept of Flow
The idea of flow has eight vital and jointly satisfactory features and criteria. Flow is the moment when an individual is fully immersed in a doable and intrinsically challenging activity, can focus and has apparently set goals. There is usually instant feedback, has nothing to stress and worry about, has a sense of personal control, suspends the sense of self and temporarily loses the sense of time (Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi 241-42). The features can sometimes appear independently. However, the feeling of flow can only be well expressed when all of its features are combined to make an impact. For the most part except for innate feelings, people can decide on what to focus their attention on. However, when in the state of flow, one is entirely engrossed in one particular activity that unconsciously, cannot focus attention to other things like distractions, people, as well as their underlying needs at that specific moment. All the attention is usually taken up by the particular task, and there is none left for allocation to other things despite how urgent they may seem.
How Flow Contributes to Happiness
According to Bruni (3), happiness is considered, in a broad sense, as a collective concept of related notions like subjective and psychological well-being, eudaimonia, flourishing and hedonism, which is the pleasure-centered idea of happiness. When one is in the state of flow, they bring out optimistic subjective experiences and positive traits that improve life quality and bar pathologies arising due to meaningless and barrenness of life. A lot of attention is usually directed towards pathologies, and in most cases, they make humans lack positive features that improve life. When a person is experiencing the concept of flow, self-regulation, autonomy, and optimism experienced at that juncture, bring forth the feeling of happiness (Seligman, Martin and Csikszentmihalyi 280-81). Commonly, happiness is found through active engagement of an individual to the world and at the limit, flow flirts with obsessive and fanatical involvement with a specific activity. A person can only lose the sense of action only if and when they are enjoying it since there lacks the elements of anxiety, stress or pain that deprive one happiness. Therefore, flow activities are fun, hence contributors to happiness.
In any flow activity, it is apparent that one needs to develop a skill set in such a way that as the challenges involved in the action evolves, the skill sets, on the other hand, improves in equal capacities. In this way, thus, the event leading to the state of flow leads to discovery and growth, which are necessary aspects of the pursuit of happiness. People learn to improve their lives through the flow activity, thus obtaining pleasure in the process. According to Csikszentmihalyi (153-154), flow motivates a person to learn, and along the way, they steer their lives into implementing and understanding lifelong learning that yields happiness. With this knowledge in place, a person can facilitate the occurrence of flow and then channel it in ethically and socially desirable directions.
The more a person engages in a flow activity on a regular basis, the more they build their happiness on a day to day life. Mostly, people think that material possessions like nice cars, vacations or even winning a lottery make them happy. However, when compared to flow, the happiness that results are far much real and engrossed as compared to material possession. There are several known flow activities including a hobby, movement like fitness and sports, what one does for work, music, study, mountain climbing and even writing. It is of essential importance that one identifies their flow activity, and cultivate the flow state when engaging in it. By doing so, one builds not only happiness but also their emotional resilience.
Steps to Attaining Flow of Happiness
The first step is to set goals to recognize the associated challenges in achieving it. The second thing is to understand the challenges in the activity, and by doing so, it is possible to suggest the skill that will be required. Thirdly, one ought to now develop the skills, and this is attained by monitoring the feedback (Tsaur et al., 360-62). The fourth step is adjusting the monitored feedback to align with the indicated goals. The fifth step is to get immersed in the activity by ignoring and avoiding distractions while increasing concentration and focus. The second last step is making the flow activity a regular practice to attain a meaningful progress towards the set objectives and build the set goals. Lastly is by thinking about the usefulness and meaning of the flow activity as one approaches the attainment of their goals (Tsaur et al., 363-65). The flow activity should be in harmony with life values and the set goal regarding happiness. It is important that the activity has a meaning.
Flow refers to the state where a person becomes fully immersed in an activity they partake. When doing it, a person loses the sense of self, time as well as they’re surrounding all the distractions associated. To experience the state of flow, some skills to handle the challenges of the activity are needed, and the expertise in return leads to growth and discovery of oneself. Increasing the skill levels of activity should not make one feel overwhelmed, but somewhat challenged, and this in return creates accomplishing and satisfactory feelings which are aspects of the pursuit of happiness. Ultimately, there is a set goal that one aims at achieving, and by doing so, joy and resilience it attained. When a person is experiencing a tough time in real life, engaging in a flow activity provides a sense of productivity and purpose, despite the emotional struggle that they may be going through.
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Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. “Learning, “flow,” and happiness.” Applications of Flow in the Human Development and Education. Springer Netherlands, 2014. 153-172. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9094-9_7
Nakamura, J., and Csikszentmihalyi, Flow and the foundations of positive psychology. Dordrecht: Springer, 2014. 239-263 https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-94-017-9088-8
Seligman, Martin EP, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. “Positive psychology: An introduction.” Flow and the foundations of positive psychology. Springer Netherlands, 2014. 279-298. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-94-017-9088-8_18
Tsaur, Sheng‐Hshiung, Chang‐Hua Yen, and Shu‐Ling Hsiao. “Transcendent experience, the flow and happiness for mountain climbers.” International Journal of Tourism Research 15.4 (2013): 360-374. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jtr.1881/full