“Did you know that you can actually increase your ability to enjoy the things in life that produce the greatest satisfaction? When I read Martin Seligman’s PERMA concept of human flourishing (Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Achievement) I simply presumed that Type-A, achievement oriented people like me are too busy doing our work to get into flow (another word for engagement). “Flow must be what creative types, like artists or actors, experience,” I naively thought.
To learn more about flow, I recently perused one of the books from the reading list I developed for my positive sociology class, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Czikszentmihaly. To my delight, I learned from Czikszentmihaly that the reason I can dedicate so many hours of solitary reading and writing is because learning new things is the primary way I experience flow.
What exactly is flow? According to Czikszentmihaly, flow is “joy, creativity, the process of total involvement with life” (Flow, p. xi). How do we achieve flow? By fighting against psychic entropy (or chaos in our thoughts) by striving for order in our consciouness. When we have order in consciousness, “the information that keeps coming into awareness is congruent with goals, psychic energy flows effortlessly” (Flow, p. 39). ..”