Imagine yourself running a marathon. Your full attention is concentrated on your steady breathing, on the feeling of your feet as they hit the ground, on the wind on your face, and sweat running down your body. You are high and tired at the same time, but you barely notice because you are completely absorbed with what you’re doing and where you’re headed.
This is what positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is referring to as the flow state. It’s being in the zone and losing yourself in the flow activity. It is achieving pleasure and enjoyment by being in an active state wherein you are completely in control.
Flow activities and flow experiences differ with each person. Some may achieve flow by engaging in sports or physical activities while others attain it by engaging in more intellectual or creative pursuits.
Engaging yourself in physical activities is where you feel the strongest physically and the most alert. This is where you perform to the best of your ability and where you feel the most alive. The adrenalin rush keeps you pushing even when your body is tired. There’s nothing more exhilarating than crossing that finishing line, sinking that ball into the basket, or hitting that perfect serve.
Not only does it keep your body active and alert, but dancing is also a form of relaxation and artistic expression. It requires concentration to learn the steps and to move in time with the music. It takes focus to let your body feel the beat and enjoy the experience. Fast or slow, it’s one great flow activity that you can do anytime, anywhere.
Do you ever notice that even if you’re tired from a long day at work, your body still craves a run around the block, even for just a few minutes? This is because running is a flow activity, too. It gives the body a fresh boost of energy that allows you to enjoy the rest of the day while eliminating the stress of work.
Painting, drawing, and writing
They are relaxing and mentally stimulating activities that are not as physically active but do not lack in flow factors. These activities keep the brain alert while keeping the body relaxed and peaceful. You only feel feelings of serenity and creativity, and your focus is on creating something beautiful out of nothing.
Being mindful and quiet is a great flow activity. Doing meditation activities, like yoga, allows you to truly listen to yourself and the world around you. You become aware of your space and your sacred state. Your mind grows entirely absorbed by your deep breathing, and everything seems to be moving in slow motion.
The effortlessness of any flow activity can only be attained by focus and engagement, but most of all, through enjoyment. To experience a flow state, it must be challenging yet attainable. It should have your full attention and concentration. You must be in control of the situation, and it should make you feel peaceful and good. So good that you lose track of time or forget about your worries and stress. Ultimately, the flow activity should be physically or emotionally rewarding.