2022: Creating a Lexicon of Future
People often say flow is like “being in the zone”. Psychologists Jeanne Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi describe it as something more. When people feel flow, they are in a state of intense concentration. Their thoughts are focused on an experience rather than on themselves.
They lose a sense of time and feel as if there is a merging of their actions and their awareness. That they have control over the situation. That the experience is not physically or mentally taxing.
Most importantly, flow is what researchers call an autotelic experience. Autotelic derives from two Greek words: autos (self) and telos (end or goal). Autotelic experiences are things that are worth doing in and of themselves. Researchers sometimes call these intrinsically rewarding experiences. Flow experiences are intrinsically rewarding. ~ The Science of ‘Flow States’, Explained by a Cognitive Science Researcher
Flow “is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter” (Csikszentmihalyi 2008). When we are in this trance-like altered state of total absorption and effortless concentration, we are aware of our surroundings, but none of that matters. We will be completely immersed in the moment — the task at hand. When we are in this state, a sense of tranquillity settles over us and our creativity becomes enhanced to the point that brilliant ideas seem to emanate from us, one after the other.
The flow state is sometimes referred to as ‘being in the zone’. Psychologically speaking, flow is defined as being in a state of mind where we are completely focused on the present. We are so engaged that it will be impossible for our mind to wander off on trivial pursuits. Many people have found their creativity heightened while in the flow state. Performance, productivity and innovation have also been similarly affected.
The flow state has also been described as a profound state of being that can also improve people’s overall outlook on life. It is an experience that drives people to become more involved, rather than isolating themselves. It also allows them to derive more joy from the things they do, rather than finding them dreary and monotonous. In a flow state, we feel more in control, rather than just going along for the ride.