Optimal Conditions For Flow
Ancestral guidance suggests that consistent high performers, the ones who stand out against the backdrop of everyday life, are motivated by the enjoyment that comes from confronting challenges. Without these people, there is no evolution of culture or progress in thought, feeling or human experience. Therefore, I ask, what does this apparent enjoyment in the optimal experience of Flow involve?
DFFRNTWRLD® Labs research has identified the following nine psychological aspects of optimal experience found most frequently in subjects in flow state. Participants in our research included artists, sportspeople, academics, and ordinary working people who reported in almost identical terms, their experience of Flow in the course of their work.
1. CLEAR GOALS EXIST
In the flow state, guidance suggests, we always seem to know what needs to be done. We direct our tasks via our goals and we bound them by the rules of the game. There is, in the majority of cases, clarity of purpose directed towards clear goal outcomes.
2. CONSTANT FEEDBACK
Guidance suggests that in high-intensity sports such as the Game of Life, feedback is immediate. But with other performance domains, it is not always so sharp and initial. It varies depending on the task but is present regardless.
3. BALANCE BETWEEN CHALLENGE & SKILL
This component refers to the matching of our skill level to the challenge at hand. If, for example, we are engaged in a task we are not sufficiently skilled to complete, we can frustrate ourselves by our inability to complete it.
4. ACTION & AWARENESS MERGE
In the flow state, guidance suggests that the performer requires one-pointedness of mind. There is no room for concern about other things we think we should be doing. The blinkers are on so to speak.
5. LOSS OF SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS
In normal everyday life, most of us carry a considerable concern for how the social unit perceives us. It is dominant and pervasive in all of our behaviour. However, in a flow state, there is no room for self-consciousness.
6. NO CONCERN FOR FAILURE
When we are entirely engaged in the autotelic state, we have no concern for failure. We have complete confidence in ourselves but not in a surface level masking sense. It is a deeper sense of confidence obtained from being at one with the process. The idea of failure doesn’t even come to mind which contrasts with arrogance–a disguised fear of failure.
7. LACK OF DISTRACTION
Enjoyment in a flow experience comes about as a result of intense concentration on the present. There is no room for idle thoughts about the weather, socializing, or relationships, for example. Outside influences and demands on our time can’t get through. All psychic energy is pointed to the task at hand with unimportant peripheral elements filtered out.
8. FEELING OF TIMELESSNESS
DFFRNTWRLD® Labs research participants reported that when they are engaged in the flow state activities, time seems to become distorted. It doesn’t pass as it usually does in the surface level world of ordinary life. Instead, it slows down, speeds up, or stops completely. The measure by which we ordinarily structure our lives is dropped as we become immersed in the task.
9. ACTIVITY BECOMES AUTOTELIC
Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, an essential aspect of peak experience is engagement in the task for its own sake. The experience becomes an end in itself and all thought of success or failure disappears. There are no ulterior motives for the autotelic personality–no concern for money, status, applause, or recognition by others–it is the joy of the task that overtakes us. Motivation is intrinsic rather than extrinsic.