Do you know what it feels like to be “in the flow”? You may have even used the phrase without knowing its origins. A famous theorist and author with a hard-to-pronounce name changed my life. If you haven’t already read about “flow,” or the psychology of optimal experience, I recommend books by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
What constitutes enjoyment of life? Optimal Experience: Psychological Studies of Flow in Consciousness offers a survey of the “flow” experience, a desirable or optimal state of consciousness that enhances a person’s psychic state. “Flow” can be said to occur when people are able to meet the challenges of their environment with appropriate skills, and accordingly feel a sense of well-being, a sense of mastery, and a heightened sense of self-esteem. The ability to experience flow affects work satisfaction, academic success, and the overall quality of life. These principles can also be applied to childrearing practices that result in the ability to derive enjoyment from life.
Here are some of the conditions that need to be met for you to experience “flow”:
A Challenging Activity that Requires Skills
The Merging of Action and Awareness
Clear Goals and Feedback
Concentration on the Task at Hand
The Loss of Self-Consciousness
The Transformation of Time
Yesterday, we took the kids blueberry picking. It was our first time, and it was so enjoyable. It was novel, exciting, a small adventure. Nothing like climbing a frozen waterfall or riding an elephant for the first time, but novel and engaging to the degree that we temporarily forgot all our troubles and felt totally blissed out afterward. Blueberry picking is relaxing.
In addition to the conditions mentioned above, here’s what I find to be relaxing:
Focus on a Task
Whole Body Engagement
Lose Track of Time
The goals and feedback are: pick as many berries as you can, and enjoy watching your bucket fill up. The challenge is to pick the largest, ripest berries. In a short amount of time, you become an expert on blueberries. I loved photographing the experience. Look how they tie buckets around your waist, which makes it easy to gather the berries. The children had a blast. HIGHLY RECOMMEND this activity for families! Stay tuned for my blueberry muffin experiment blog.