“People in a state of ‘flow’ are those who feel feel they are engaged in a creative unfolding of something larger; athletes call it ‘being in the zone’, mystics have described as ‘ecstasy’, and artists ‘rapture’. You and I may recognize our flow experiences as simply those activities…which seem to make time stand still.” Read the summary here.
I spent the early part of the morning watching “Happy“, and folding laundry. What a compelling study on the psychology of happiness. I’m a firm believer in the importance of flow and the overwhelming sense of fulfillment that is generated by cultivating a life with space for this process to unfold. As a former do-it-all mother, I spent years of my life trying to quiet an inner quarrel with the lack of time for flow. I longed for the passionate, intentional focus that had been a mainstay before my children were born. I craved times of silence, lack of interruption, and total abandon into a world that seemed to be my own. This is what they might call “the zone”.
Reading Czikszentmihalyi’s findings confirms a premise I’ve had for myself and the way I have mothered my children–providing space/time for “losing ourselves” in our passions is non-negotiable, and essential for our well-being. I know when they are in their zone–Nothing can disrupt their play, art, brainstorming. It’s a beautiful process to behold (and can be quite maddening if there is somewhere to go, something that needs attention, or if supper is warm and on the table). Knowing the paramount importance of allowing for this engagement allows for a particular, understood, accepted rhythm to our lives: task is not our master, the clock does not dictate, order will come in fits and starts, and routine will serve the pace we set.
“Csikszentmihalyi’s research established a fascinating point about the flow experience: after each instance, a person is more than the person they were before. Each piece of knowledge absorbed, each new refinement of a skill, enlarges the self and makes it more highly ordered, forming, in his words, ‘an increasingly extraordinary individual’. This is why opportunities to create flow can be addictive – life without them feels static, boring and meaningless.”