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Prompt 44: Flow

Flow refers to a state of complete immersion and focus in an activity where a person is fully engaged and energized by the task at hand.
Prompt 44: Flow
This week's images were all generated by asking AI to create images of 'flow'.

This week's prompt is 'flow'.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term in 1970 when he was researching how people felt most enjoying themselves.

Flow refers to a state of complete immersion and focus in an activity where a person is fully engaged and energized by the task at hand.

It's also known as being "in the zone."

When you're in flow, you may lose track of time, forget about your surroundings, and experience a sense of effortless control over your actions.

Flow is often associated with creative or athletic pursuits, but it can occur in any activity you find engaging and challenging. It can be a satisfying and fulfilling experience, as you can tap into your full potential and enjoy the process what you're doing.

Most of us can probably think of a time when we experienced flow.

Part of this week's prompt might be to identify such times in the past and think about what activities you were doing at the time.

When did time stand still? When were you 'in the zone'?

Do you do these activities regularly? If not - could you build them into your routine more?

As I look back over my own life, there are numerous times when I've experienced flow.

This week I listed a few and had the realisation that almost all of them related to being creative (writing, speaking, photography, using AI to create images). Many also related to turning these creative pursuits into a business (entrepreneurship).

Ingredients for Flow

Csikszentmihalyi identified the following ingredients for experiencing flow:

  • The task is challenging and requires skill.
  • We concentrate on the activity in the present moment.
  • There are clear goals.
  • We get immediate feedback.
  • Feeling the potential to succeed
  • We have deep, effortless involvement.
  • There is a sense of control.
  • Our sense of self vanishes.

This resonates for me. The times I've experienced flow were not simply about doing fun creative things but challenging things that gave a sense of achievement.

In their helpful article on flow, Headspace identifies clear conditions for achieving flow:

  1. You need to care about the task at hand
  2. The activity, job or task cannot be too easy or too difficult
  3. Optimally, the activity should be something that you are good at.
  4. Your mindset surrounding the task should be focused on the journey, not the destination.

Additionally, they give these tips for pursuing state of flow:

  1. Do something you love.
  2. Create a ritual.
  3. Choose your most important task.
  4. Identify your peak creative and productive times.
  5. Eliminate distractions.

If you'd like to learn more about flow here's Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talking about it in a TED talk.

This week I hope that you set aside some time to reflect on when you've experienced flow in your life - and that those reflections will help you to build it into your life in the future.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with flow in comments below.