There are times when I open up a word doc and my mind and fingers are in total sync, the ideas just ‘flow’, I’m typing and it appears great things are happening because I’m in that particular mental state. Perhaps you can relate?
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi a Hungarian psychologist coined the term ‘flow’ to describe this mental state and describes it as follows;
“being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
Here’s a brief overview of the theory:
The benefits of finding flow
- Flow enables you to produce high quality work with relative ease
- Flow gives you a feeling of satisfaction and happiness
- Flow takes the struggle out of work
- Flow enables you to maximise your time
- Flow increases your productivity
- Flow enables you to have focused concentration on a task
- Flow makes work easier and I’ll even go as far as saying joyful
So the question is how do you find your flow?
- You have to have a passion for the work and the task at hand
- It has to be challenging yet not too hard
Hence, if you are persistently struggling with the above in a particular area, maybe it’s because it’s not the right work for you. Quite simply you can’t flow in something that you’re not passionate about or gifted to do.
So the question remains what are you gifted to do? Well, what are you naturally passionate about? where do your natural strengths and talents lie? What occupations exist that will enable you to bring your passion and talents together? If you’re struggling to answer these questions, I highly recommend that you read the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, it’s a really good place to start.
I’d like to add a caveat at this point, just because you are good at something doesn’t mean no work is required or that as soon as you set to work you’ll ‘flow’, but what it does mean is that even if it takes time you’ll be able to ‘flow’ eventually.
Here’s an example from my own life; I believe God has gifted me with the ability to write and speak in a way that compels others. However, that doesn’t mean that I can write a blog post or article without spending time thinking about it, or stand in front of a group of people and present without preparing thoroughly. In fact I often ponder ideas for days if not weeks before I actually put pen to paper or present. However, once I’ve prepared I find it quite easy to flow.
The thing about ‘flow’ is that once you’re flowing the end result will have elements of what you prepared but will often look quite different. Reason being when you’re flowing in your gift it will sometimes take you places you hadn’t prepared to go, so by all means prepare, but when what you have prepared goes awry, don’t sweat it, just go with the flow!
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has a lot to say about ‘flow’ and a great deal of it is useful, but I’ve found that I flow best when I simply let go of all worries and concerns and cast my cares on God (1 Peter 5:7). What I’ve found is that God has placed a treasure trove of gifting’s on the inside of me and when I let go and trust Him to bring those gifting’s out, that is when I really find my flow! Likewise there’s a treasure trove of gifting’s in you.