Sometimes when I read a book, I would be startled by someone switching on the light. I’d say “Oh, is that the time already”? Or I would put on music whilst writing a blog and take no notice of the sound playing in the background. If this sounds like you then, you have experienced a deep level of consciousness.
This is known as being in the ‘Flow’.
What is Flow?
Flow is a deep state-like experience where we are so focused on a task that we lose all sense of our environment, ignore hunger, fatigue, and discomfort. Only after the task is completed, we lose interest and get out of this conscious state.
If you are one those people who are like – once you start something you have to finish it. You most likely have experienced it. It is characterised by:
- Intense and focused concentration on the task in the present moment
- Loss of awareness of yourself
- The sense that you can deal with the situation
- A sense that time has past quicker than normal
- Intrinsically rewarding – nothing matters (i.e. tasks) apart from being in the Flow.
I’ve experienced it when reading journals, doing homework and painting.
Athletes refer to it as ‘being in the zone’ and researchers refer to it as a ‘heightened sense of consciousness’.
Check out the animated video below showing two basketball players in the zone.
How to experience Flow
Its all about the skill level that is needed for the task. If the task too easy and does not require a high skill-set, you will not experience flow. You need to do a task that requires all your attention which best utilities your skills.
For example, if you are researching a journal for an essay, you will be using all your research and reading skills to highlight the key points and summarise it.
It actually does make sense! Whenever I accomplish something that is difficult and makes me work hard, it pays off and I feel pleased with myself. It is a pleasurable and rewarding experience that makes me want to do challenging things all the time.
Another important thing to consider is that the goals for then task have to be clear and you need to know how well you are doing.
For example, points from a basket ball game will immediately tell you if you are playing good or not. This instant feedback will guide you and help you adjust to the task.
If you have an Autotelic personality (Auto means self and teleos means goal), you will experience being in the Flow more.
Why? Its not because that they are more intelligent, creative or that they are meeting the criteria of Flow frequently. Its about mentality!
Nearly everyone sets goals. Once the goal has been met we get a reward e.g. doing chores to get pocket money etc. And then they set other goals and so forth. Sure, there is nothing wrong with that.
But if you have an autotelic personality, you are not bothered about the end goal. You are doing a task out of enjoyment in the present moment. This is why people report more satisfaction when doing things for fun vs when there is a goal involved.
Personally, I don’t think I have an autotelic personality but, when I write blogs I don’t do it for any end goal; I do it because I enjoy it like, many others.
When was the last time you did something for fun?