In his book Finding Flow, Csíkszentmihályi explains that individuals can seek out activities that meet some of the factors of flow, like playing chess, playing a logic game or puzzle like Sudoku, participating in sports, engaging in a meaningful project at work or at school, drawing, or writing.
“Flow also happens when a person’s skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable, so it acts as a magnet for learning new skills and increasing challenges,” Csíkszentmihályi explains. “If challenges are too low, one gets back to flow by increasing them. If challenges are too great, one can return to the flow state by learning new skills.”
The importance of actively seeking out the flow state cannot be overstated. Research done by Harvard professor Teresa Amabile shows that people who have experienced this state of mind report higher levels of productivity, creativity, and happiness for up to three days after experiencing flow state. Pushing ourselves just outside our comfort zone, stretching to accomplish a set goal and working toward that goal with focus, determination, and little distraction expands our minds and teaches us to be creative and innovative-skills that increase the quality of both the work you do and the life you live.
For thousands of years mankind has looked up to the stars and formed intricate patterns, figures of hunters and heroes, out of the meaningless scatter of starshine; for we humans seek meaning wherever we can find it. Living a life of meaning and of depth requires us to step outside of our comfort zones, to challenge our own ideas and create innovative ways to optimise our time on this earth. The mental state of flow catapults our minds out of the mindless humdrum of everyday life and closer to a meaningful existence.