Thursday, February 11, 2010
I must admit, I have been in a major creative slump this week. Design work, writing, communication: it all feels like pulling teeth. Perhaps it has something to do with the winter weather and the stop-and-start nature of freelance winter work, but I just can't seem to get my head in the game. Anyhow, this isn't a journal...I just mean to say that this feeling of "blockage" has made me think about the concept of "Flow", as defined by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This is the stuff that really cooks my noodle in relationship to my education and profession in the realm of creativity with a deadline. I thought it worth sharing some of my research on the topic.
Csikszentmihalyi describes "Flow" as the "psychology of optimal experience". Athletes might call it being "in the zone". You could think of it as being "in the groove" or being "on the ball". "Flow" describes peak performance in any field, the experience of losing one's self entirely in what one is doing. Csikszentmihalyi describes it this way. "Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity”.
I've also heard it described as the point where "your challenges meet your skills". According to Csíkszentmihályi, flow is this state achievable in work or play, characterized by the following seven requisites:
1. One is completely involved in the task; you are both concentrated and focused.
2. They feel a sense of ecstasy, in the sense of the original Greek meaning of the word; to feel ‘outside of reality’.
3. ‘Great Inner Clarity‘ – you know firstly what needs to be done, and secondly, how well you’re doing in achieving what needs to be done.
4. Knowing your skills are adequate for the job; that the job is doable.
5. Serenity – no worries of oneself; a perspective transcending the boundaries of ego.
6. Timelessness – time flies by as one is caught in the moment, a total focus on the present.
7. Intrinsic Motivation – whatever activity produces flow; becomes its own reward.
When have you experienced "Flow"? What helps you get "in the groove"?