What is Flow?

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“Flow” is the term psychologists use to refer to conscious states in which we are completely immersed in what we are doing. The term ‘flow’ was given to these states by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who is a world renowned psychological expert on ‘optimal experiences’. He first became interested in these states when researching what makes people happy, how they achieve it, and what makes life worth living.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his team of researchers began investigating this phenomenon in the 1980’s. They travelled to dozens of countries all over the world, researching people from all walks of life, any one from ballerinas to sheep herders, and asked them all the same question “What makes them happy?”. They all reported the same feelings of absorption in what they were doing, and the happiness that followed.  This lead Csikszentmihalyi to the conclusion that flow states are universal, and can be experienced by anyone, so long as the activity they were doing was internally motivating to them.

Flow is more commonly known as “being in the zone”. When we are in flow states, we perform at our best, effortlessly. Flow can occur in many situations. For instance, you could be in flow when working on an interesting project, reading a great book, running, or simply being absorbed in a conversation with friends.

Regardless of what you are doing, when in flow states, we are so concentrated on the task at hand that the rest of the world seems to just pass us by.  This is a thoroughly enjoyable experience for us. It may be surprising given how pleasurable ‘flow’ is for us, but in these states we are actually at our most productive.

Intense concentration allows us to apply purposeful focus to what we want to achieve. Unfortunately, this is something we rarely allow ourselves to have. Think back over the day you had, how many times did you stop what you were doing to answer the phone or reply to an email? All of these activities break our concentration, and result in things not been completed to the best of our ability.

Here at the Positive Performance Academy, we call that ‘flip flopping’. It happens to the best of us, and given the ‘information age’ we live in, it is expected of us to respond to demands almost instantly. However, research has shown that we lose an average of three working hours a day as a result of trying to multi-task, so according to science, ‘Less is More’.

The Positive Performance Academy has two Flow Coaches on the team, Denis and Lorna. The aim of Flow Coaching is to identify what your flow triggers are, and what will help you get into flow in order to maximise your performance.

Over the next few weeks, we will be writing about how you can ‘plug into flow’. We will take you through:

  • The Science of Flow
  • Flow and your Performance
  • How to ‘Plug Flow’ – Setting the Right Conditions
  • Maximise your Potential with Flow
  • Other Benefits of Being in the Moment – Mindfulness
  • Collaborative Flow – Teach your Team
  • Effortlessness – Reaping your Flow Rewards


It’s all about being in the moment and living life to its fullest in that moment. That’s what makes like worth living.



The Positive Performance Academy Team

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