Understanding The Psychology Of Flow

If you ever felt completely immersed in an activity, you might have been experiencing a mental state that psychologists refer to as flow.

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What exactly is flow? Imagine for a moment that you are running a race. Your attention is focused on the movements of your body, the power of your muscles, the force of your lungs, and the feel of the street beneath your feet. You are living in the moment, utterly absorbed in the present activity. Time seems to fall away. You are tired, but you barely notice.

According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, what you are experiencing in that moment is known as flow, a state of complete immersion in an activity. He describes the mental state of flow as

“being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

Flow experiences can occur in different ways for different people. Some might experience flow while engaging in a sport such as skiing, tennis, soccer, dancing, or running. Others might have such an experience while engaged in an activity such as painting, drawing, or writing. These moments of flow often occur when you are engaged in an activity that you enjoy and in which you are quite skilled.

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