POWERFUL! EASY! FEELING GOOD! NICE AND CHALLENGING!
"Flow" is a perfect mix of great feeling dopamine and anxiety-free ease, yet challenge.
It is perhaps the greatest sustainable reproducible experience of life, though the expansive flow of love is the greatest.
Anxiety and self concern use up a great deal of one's mental capacity, narrowing down the available resources to use to have a great life. Those must be handled 1st for your flow in life to occur (see the program). And, as you begin to flow, your anxiety and self concern will diminish markedly.
AN "EXPERIENCE OF BEING"
Well, although it has been written so much about elsewhere, I finally find it necessary to write some more about this "experience of being" or "way of being".
"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. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does." (See Wikipedia and understand this as an essential of life experience.)
"According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand." Time seems to pass with no awareness - and suddenly you jolt yourself with a "wow, time seemed to disappear" - and you experienced no worry, only a pleasant and interesting challenge.
The activity is experienced as "intrinsically rewarding" in itself - which would classify it as an "end product", not a "so-that" activity. It is not an activity done just as a "so that" - it is not just done in order to get something as an end product (such as happiness or satisfaction) - it is a reward in itself. It is a terminal emotion, like "happiness", producing
happiness as a by-product.
In self growth workshops, there is often a questioning process, where one asks of another the same question over and over: "and you did that so that...: or "in order to get what?" "I want a hot rod car so that I'll impress others so that they'll think I'm cool, so that I will get their approval, so that they'll love me, which is important because I will then survive (since I am dependent on "the big people" and their love). [Although the last one is fairly obviously untrue, many people still operate based on that idea, as it stays in the unquestioned, vague background in their thinking.]
I mistakenly thought I was in "flow" when I was doing one thing within my ability but still challenging (to "win" at Spider Solitaire) Yes I was receiving some reward for doing my addictive playing. Dopamine, the reward chemical, was giving a little "hit", enough to keep me going on this useless activity.
So flow is an experience of "positive chemicals" where you "feel good", without experiencing the normal background of anxiety and negative concerns. Thus it is "happiness" in the moment. It is "experiential" happiness, which is good and which can contribute to the more powerful "memory" happiness - since it gives you a feeling of mastery over life and confidence in your ability to live life well.
WHAT TO DO TO GET A "FLOW EXPERIENCE"
Remember that part of the flow experience is complete immersion and being free of anxiety. With anxiety, your attention is not free and you are not immersed in what you are doing. You are devoting energy to your anxiety, plus you are not feeling good (chemically).
If you set up your day specifically, your anxiety will decline simply because you know what you will be doing and will not have to redecide or puzzle over it.
If you work in 90 minute segments, with a timer to go off after 80 minutes (followed by a 10 minute break), you will automatically tend to get lost in what you are doing, as there is a certainty that is produced by having the timer there to terminate the work time - and to give you relief, relaxation, and renewal in the break. Living My Life In 90 Minute Segments has had a profound effect on my "flow", plus I get alot more done - and with no anxiety - and I feel better as I get more done. Multiple benefits, I guess you'd call that.
Since flow requires that you have a challenge that is within your ability, though it could be a stretch, we must match the task to that level of ability. (You can do the stretch outside your ability as a separate activity, where you will accept failures as a part of a growth experience.)
to be continued...meanwhile google "flow experiences" for ideas...then list them, put them in your Reminders Notebook, or some place where you will access them when you need to dig up a flow experience. Don't forget that a flow experience should produce something good - and definitely not something that you'll feel bad about afterwards. So playing a computer game is most likely not a true flow experience if it causes you to waste time and/or feel bad about doing it.
I ALSO NOTE THIS:
Flow can occur anytime there is something a little challenging that is absorbing and gives you "rewarding feedback" of competence in some way. This is why playing computer games (and even, believe it or not, slot machines) and any intermittent reinforcement processes.
The point, however, is not to seek "flow" per se, but to seek it where it will enable you to reach a greater capability in life and/or greater way of being, having, and feeling - i.e. to be gratifying right now in true value or of value for the future.