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Friday 12th June 2015

posted 2 Jul 2015, 18:34 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 2 Jul 2015, 19:13 ]
"The best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen.(Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is one of the major pioneers of the scientific study of happiness. Born in Hungary in 1934 he became intrigued by what he called 'the flow state', the space in which a person is totally immersed in an activity with intense focus and creative engagement.

His now famous Beeper Study is fascinating. A group of teenagers were given beepers that went off during random times of the day. They recorded their thoughts and feelings at these times. Most of the information showed that they were a pretty unhappy bunch. However, what Csikszentmihalyi found, was that they were far more positive when they were focussing on a challenging task. This and other studies following have provided in-depth information around this state of flow. In visuals:

When asked the question "Would you rather be at work or at leisure?" Most responses are the latter! However, there are very few experiences of flow in times of leisure, it's true - most periods of flow occur when working!

There are a few different elements involved in achieving flow:
  • There are clear goals every step of the way.
  • There is immediate feedback to one’s actions.
  • There is a balance between challenges and skills.
  • Action and awareness are merged.
  • Distractions are excluded from consciousness.
  • There is no worry of failure.
  • Self-consciousness disappears.
  • The sense of time becomes distorted.
  • The activity becomes an end in itself.
We need to keep working on how we can increase 'flow' in the lives of our children and ultimately in our own . The more flow, the happier we are, the happier we are, the more success we have. It's up to us! If you can find time you may wish to listen to this TED TALK from the man himself.

If you are wondering how to pronounce his name, it's Me-high Cheek-Sent-Me-High!!