Finding your Flow: How to harness your happiness and find some inner peace.

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You know that feeling you have when you are completely absorbed in something, you feel happy, engaged and fulfilled. You don't notice time, or think about resting, eating or other human type concerns. This is the feeling of being in 'flow,' it's akin to a gentle current of water carrying you along ( Csíkszentmihályi, 1990). pioneered what we know today as positive psychology, the branch of psychology that uses science to understand and create effective interventions to support a positive outlook when it comes to life experiences and individual traits. The theory is that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow—a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation.

When I was researching this piece, I found myself reflecting on what brings me this type of absorption and peace. It's my work. Some of it comes through on this blog, some in my practice, some in my consulting role. It also comes through in my everyday conversations about the types of things I study and write about.

So this is me, what about 'flow' for you? 

How do I know I'm in 'flow'?

  1. You know it because you feel almost weightless. Your senses are softly humming, and whatever you are doing has taken you almost to a meditation type space, albeit you may be producing incredible work.
  2. If you are interrupted, at best you will be distracted, at worst disgruntled. Nobody likes to be interrupted in 'flow'. It's this reason why I try very, very hard not to interrupt my kids when they are playing peacefully by themselves. Usually at this point, they will be in 'flow'.

The essence of creating and living in inner peace is to find what helps you slip into complete absorption i.e 'flow' and then do more of it. For some it could be drawing, cooking, gardening, work tasks. For others it could be dancing, pottery, brewing, composting. Wherever you find yourself using your skills to the utmost, where each action inevitably leads to the next, like playing jazz, this will be your version of 'flow' (Csíkszentmihályi, 1994).

When was the last time you felt the exhilaration and peace of being in 'flow'?

  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper and Row. ISBN 0-06-092043-2
  • Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1994). The Evolving Self, New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-092192-7