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"Flow" Activities

Cultivating wellbeing calls for more than completing responsibilities and activities on your schedule. You will gain fullness in your life when you can engage in activities that reflect your personal interests and skill level.

Do you recall those moments when enjoyment and productivity sprung from

your mind smoothly?

According to positive psychology cofounder Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, this state is called "flow" — an experience of heightened focus and immersion in activities such as art, play and work. His research supports that finding “flow” in our lives is an important contributor to creativity

fullness of life and wellbeing.

Csikszentmihalyi describes 8 characteristics of “flow” as:

1. An opportunity for complete concentration on the task

2. Clarity of goals with reward and immediate feedback

3. Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down of time)

4. The experience is intrinsically rewarding, has an end itself

5. Effortlessness and ease

6. There is a balance between challenge and skills

7. Actions and awareness are merged, loss of self-conscious rumination

8. There is a feeling of control over the task

Achieving “flow” requires determination and discipline. Setting a

strong intention to absorb in an activity to the point where you enter a

subconscious mastery in what you are doing, demands persistence.

Developing this skill helps enrich your life and fills the desire for purpose.

The balance of perceived challenge and personal skill are important

factors. Keep in mind that if the activity is too easy you’ll be bored and your

mind will wander. On the one hand, when a challenge is bigger than your

level of skills, you may become anxious and stressed. Anxiety and stress

will block “flow”.

How can you find your “flow” activity? First, get to know yourself to

appreciate your skills and talent for self fulfilling activities. Engage in an

activity that is in its self its own reward, something that you enjoy doing. It

can be playing an instrument, writing, ice skating, horseback riding, playing

football, mentoring teenagers, researching a new idea-anything!

Remember to eliminate all other distractions, focus and concentration is


Experiment in finding “flow” with a team or in a group. I recently had

an experience of “flow” in a clay class at the Owatonna Arts Center. I was

so engaged in the challenge and skill needed to move the pottery wheel, I

didn't think of anything else. Self-consciousness disappeared and time

melted away as I pursued my goal to complete my vase. At the end of the

class I felt relaxed, productive and enriched.

Finding your “flow” in everyday life is an important component of

creativity, relaxation and well-being. The more you practice “flow” in your

play and work, the more you will seek to replicate these experiences.

These experiences will help lead you to a fully engaged and happy life.

Dawn Ritter APRN CNP is a Family Nurse Practitioner and Integrative

Health and Wellness Coach. She is owner of Begin Again: Health &

Wellbeing LLC. She can be reached at 507-676-7308.

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