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Tuesday, January 9, 2024

What is a Flow State?

The Flow State has also been described as being "in the zone" or "in the groove."  

When  people are in a Flow State, they are so immersed and focused on whatever enjoyable task they're doing that they don't notice time is passing. 


A Flow State

This article will focus on:
  • Defining the Flow State
  • Positive Psychology and the Flow State
  • The Benefits of the Flow State
  • How to Enter into the Flow State
What is the Flow State?
The psychological Flow State is a state of being completely absorbed, focused and involved in an enjoyable task for its own sake.

A Flow State

The Flow State is similar to mindfulness in that a person who is in that state is in the present moment.

Tasks that allow for a Flow State include (but are not limited to): 
  • Sports 
  • Yoga
  • Dancing 
  • Reading
  • Gardening
  • Crafts
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Video games
  • Listening to music
  • Playing an instrument
  • Sex 
These tasks can be anything that is enjoyable, rewarding and at just the right level of challenge for a person's particular skill set.  

A Flow State

The tasks aren't so tough that they're overwhelming and they're not so easy that they're boring.

What is the Connection Between Positive Psychology and the Flow State?
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian-American psychologist who was a leader in the Positive Psychology movement, popularized the concept of the Flow State.

The Positive Psychology movement was developed in the late 20th Century as an alternative to the psychological perspective at the time that focused on psychopathology.

In his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Csikszentmihalyi indicated that people are happiest when they are in the Flow State.

He characterized nine components of the Flow State:
  • Challenge-skill balance
  • Merging of action and awareness
  • Clarity
  • Immediate and clear feedback
  • Concentration on the task
  • Paradox of control (the more you try to control something the more. you lose control)
  • Transformation of time
  • Loss of self consciousness
  • Autotelic experience (performing tasks that are intrinsically rewarding)
What Are the Benefits of the Flow State?
  • Better performance
  • Fewer distractions
  • Less self judgment
  • Increased motivation to complete a task
  • Great ability to spend a longer time on a task
  • Increased skill and sense of self competence
How Can You Enter into the Flow State?
People often get into the Flow State without realizing it, but you can also try to induce a Flow State.

If you want to induce the Flow State, you can:
  • Think about the times you were able to get into the Flow State in the past
A Flow State
  • Engage in enjoyable activities where you can get immersed
  • Eliminate distractions, interruptions and multitasking so you can focus on one activity
  • Allow enough time to enter into a Flow State (a longer time is more conductive to Flow)
  • Practice mindfulness
Conclusion
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's work emphasized that the Flow State can induce a feeling of happiness and a sense of meaningfulness.  

He also stressed the importance of the balance between the challenge of the task and the skill involved to be able to enter into a Flow State.

You can explore different tasks to find the ones that enable you to enter into a Flow State and derive the benefits of Flow.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I am a sex-positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.