You want to be experiencing “flow.” It’s when you’re so wrapped up in what you’re doing that the world fades away:
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity… The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described… as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.
When do you usually feel flow? It’s when you’re challenged but not beyond your skill level. Passive activities don’t create flow. Neither do overwhelming challenges.
Flow is generally reported when a person is doing his or her favorite activity – gardening, listening to music, bowling, cooking a good meal. It also occurs when driving, when talking to friends and surprisingly often at work. Very rarely do people report flow in passive leisure activities, such as watching television or relaxing.
There are a handful of things that need to be present for you to experience flow:
Finding that balance between challenge and skills is best illustrated by this chart:
First, figure out what brings you flow already and think about how to maximize those moments. Dan Pink offers an excellent exercise to help with that
Second, do your best to take your regular work activities and add in the factors that create flow.
…almost any activity can produce flow provided the relevant elements are present, it is possible to improve the quality of life by making sure that clear goals, immediate feedback, skills balanced to action, opportunities, and the remaining conditions of flow are as much possible a constant part of everyday life.
Third, significantly increasing the amount of flow you experience is often the result of using your unique talents — your “signature strengths.”
Via UPenn happiness expert Martin Seligman’s book, Authentic Happiness:
For more on flow, check out these books:
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