Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. writes a wonderful book called Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment. He is also the author of the pursuit of perfect. There are many great points in his books and I wanted to share a quick chart he explains which according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, exemplifies flow—a state in which one is immersed in an experience that is rewarding in and of itself, where action and awareness are merged, and where happiness tends to find us.
It is in this flow, where our pleasure senses are most stimulated, but we are at ease. It is where peak experience and performance merge and where we perform at our best.
Where focusing is effortless, where we, in turn, are learning, expanding, growing and improving toward a future purpose. Because of the ebbs and flows of our everyday life, staying stoic in this perfect flow is unrealistic and we find ourselves struggling to stay in this bliss of effortless being.
The hard thing about flow is keeping it real in our forefront and staying present to feel and experience it.
Focusing too much on past and future will push that flow further away from your grasp. Csikszentmihalyi suggests that having goals, a clear sense of purpose, a distraction-free and healthy inner dialogue, and commitment will help individuals attain flow better.
I encourage people to feel out their anxiety and pain. There is no self-benefit storing up emotions, hurt and feelings. A healthy outlet is always encouraged. Csikszentmihalyi says that soaking in the pain will diminish peak performance and overexertion and under exertion will both destroy the ability to get into your flow.
According to the chart, there is a zone where people perform the best and enjoy doing what they are performing. Too difficult of a task or too easy of a skill level will either create some sort of anxiety or boredom, if not balanced to the vibrational equivalent of the individual at that moment in time.
The constant challenge is to stay in the balanced zone. If meditation is your new task, it may bring about anxiety at first because the learning curve is steep. But will prove easier once practice has taken place, but there is always a way to keep learning and growing. The same meditation will out grow even the best meditators. Then there are advanced methods. (That's another story).
When do you experience flow? How can you optimize your flow by decreasing your anxiety, step back from your hectic schedule a bit or perhaps charging your day with a few more tasks that keep you challenged? Want to find that tangible happiness? First, find your indivisible flow. Happiness will follow suit closely behind.