Mihaly Cziksentmihalyi, pioneer of Positive Psychology and creator of the FLOW Model defines flow in the following manner:
“Flow, a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
Mihaly describes some components related to the realization of flow, in the following manner:
- In the process, clear and understandable goals are defined for each step – The person can easily describe what he/she wants to accomplish.
- The individual receives instant and direct feedback on their actions.
- In a sustainable time period, the person is concentrated on the subject and there is nothing else to distract him/her on his/her mind.
- With the individual’s skills/abilities, there is the feeling that the task/activity is balanced.
- The person has the feeling that they are in control of the situation.
- The awareness of bodily needs disappears.
- The person feels that time is flowing.
- The person experiences the activity as if he/she has been intrinsically rewarded.
- He/she is absorbed fully in the activity.
- The person understands him/herself and feels at one with the activity (he/she is almost not aware of the situation – this can only be operated from an unconscious state)
As can be understood from this definition, the state of flow is related to removing the thinking mind from intervention. Michael Jordan (the basketball player) does not think about if he is able throw the ball or not (he does not ask the question, how can I get the ball into the hoop), if he were to think about it, probably the state of flow would be inhibited and he might throw the ball outside the hoop. Absorbing yourself in an activity ensures that the absence and awareness of the ego is intertwined with the activity.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s flow research is focused on “work” space and the creative outcomes of “work”, but he also noticed that the state of flow is applicable to relationships and other situations. In his research, Mihaly came across people who saw big difficulties as a challenge and not like an obstacle. Some people he came across in his 25-year-long research were people that turned every potential threat into a pleasant experience, and therefore constantly experienced an inner calm mind. Mihaly referred to these people as “autotelic people” (autotelic – people who carry the purpose of existence in themselves – people who know that existence is meaningful and live it) We can think of great people like Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and Socrates as exemplars for this state of mind.; however, in his research Mihaly gives several examples showing that anyone has the capacity to experience this state.
Based on Positive Psychology and on Mihaly’s principles, when we created FLOW Coaching Model and Methodology, we had a purpose in our minds to help ordinary people to understand the concept of flow; take ownership of it and invent their own flow whether at work or with relationships or certain life challenges or even at career development. If you are interested to learn more about the FLOW Coaching Method have a look at it here on the link inside : https://flowcoachinginstitute.com/flow-coaching-method/