Abstract This Article explores a state of mind called "Flow". How this has helped achievers in their journey and how one can practice it.
How do some people achieve anything they want? How to achieve anything that you want.
Have you ever been to a state where you do an activity for so long that you lost track time, and miss to notice changes around you. Many people also call this state as “zone”.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentminhalyi from the University of Chicago terms this state as “flow”, was one of the first to identify and research the state flow for two decades.
It is state in which people become utterly absorbed in what they are doing, paying undivided attention to the task, their awareness merged with their actions. Attention become so focused that people are aware only of the narrow range of perception. It is state of self-forgetfulness, unconcerned with how are we doing, with thoughts of success or failure; the sheer pleasure of the act itself is motivating.
People in flow exhibit master control of what they are doing. Here, the quality of attention is relaxed yet highly focused. It is a concentration very different from straining to pay attention when we are too tired or bored, or when our focus is battling under intruding feelings such as anxiety, fear or anger.
In a study by Csikszentmihalyi of 200 artists eighteen years after they left art school, Csikszentmihalyi found that it was those who in their student days had savored the sheer joy of painting itself who has become serious painters. Those who had been motivated in art school by dreams of fame and wealth for the most part drifted away from art after completing school.
Csikszentmihalyi concludes: Painters must want to paint above all else. If the artist in front of the canvas begins to wonder how much he will sell it for, or what the critics will think of it, he wont be able to pursue original avenues. Creative achievements depend on single-minded immersion.
Flow is an experience almost everyone enters every once in a while, particularly when performing at their maximum point or stretching beyond their previous limits.
That experience is a glorious one. Because flow feels so good, it is naturally rewarding.
Ways to get into the flow:
1. Intentionally focus on the task at hand; a high attentiveness is the essence of flow.
Free yourself from all kind of distractions. Competition is one of the way to get into the flow. Try sitting in an environment where you see people achieving task same as you. Put your phone away. Study says people are likely to concentrate more on a task that they like, so choose a subject you like and thrive.
2. Find a task that you are skilled at, and is slightly challenging.
Psychologist Csikszentminhalyi says: people seems to concentrate best when the demands on them are a bit greater than usual, and they are able to give more than usual. If there is too little demand on them, people are bored. If there is too much for them to handle, they get anxious. Flow occurs in that delicate zone between boredom and anxiety.
When people are engaged in activities that effortlessly capture and hold their attention, their brain “quiets down” in the sense that there is a lessening of cortical arousal. But a strained concentration- a focus fueled by worry triggers cortical activation, which end up breaking the ‘zone’.
By building the ability to concentrate highly in a task, a person can build new neuron connections in the brain. Csikszentminhalyi says the state flow does not only brings prosperity in work but also has many benefits such as improved performance, significant increase in happiness, emotional regulation, limitless creativity and motivation.