What is the concept of “flow”?

What is the concept of “flow”?

Published on

Coming from positive psychology, flow is a concept which refers to the state of fullness and optimal concentration to achieve one’s objectives. A concept that is available in many areas…

Translation and definition: what does “flow” mean in French? What is it to have flow?

The term “flow” is an English word which can be translated into French as “flow” or “flux”. It designates a state of total immersion in which the person is so motivated and concentrated that they are entirely absorbed in their activity. “All her senses are mobilized towards the objective she has set for herself so much so that she does not see the time passing. But this activity, even if it is “fluid” and provides pleasure, is not easy. The task requires a level of skill and effort“, summarizes Vanessa Dabin-Remignon, professional coach.

A theory revealed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and from positive psychology

It is Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, a psychologist of Hungarian origin and pioneering researcher in positive psychology, who is at the origin of the concept of flow and who highlighted it from 1975. His work is marked by his desire to understand this which contributes to people’s happiness and he notes that involvement in a creative activity, in particular, allows us to live this moment more fully.

Sport, music… A psychological state, different fields of application and possible experiences

Flow is found in various areas. It is thus linked to creative hobbies, cooking, sports practice, music, the professional world, religion… Everything that will motivate a person to be totally involved in order to perform well and which contributes to flourish and give him immediate joy. In football, for example, the person can be sure of themselves, confident, and score every time. In music, the artist is as if transported by what he is playing, in a state of grace, and no longer thinks about what he is doing, nor where and with whom he is.

How do you know if you are in a state of flow?

According to Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and positive psychology, it is necessary to have several of the following characteristics to know if there has truly been a flow experience:

  • One or more ambitious but achievable objectives;
  • A strong concentration at the moment T on the task;
  • The subject and the object seem to be one;
  • A feeling of loss of self-awareness;
  • The feeling of controlling oneself and dominating the activity;
  • A loss of sense of time;
  • Instant feedback;
  • An activity that is a source of pleasure in itself.

To study and measure flow, several self-description tools have been developed such as qualitative interviews, questionnaires, etc. A large number of researchers have also used the ESM (Experience Sampling Method), a method of sampling experiences (Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002; Scollon, Kim-Prieto, & Diener, 2003). This consists of answering a short questionnaire when a pager rings. According to the studies, the ESM is based on a sample of different daily life activities (sport, creative leisure, family relationships, etc.) as well as on the cognitive, emotional and motivational states of the people surveyed. These studies demonstrated that the balance between skills and challenge depends greatly on affect, concentration and activation.

How to have flow in life? How to be in a state of flow?

To achieve flow, you must create a conducive environment, without distractions, where you can fully devote yourself to this pleasant activity. If we do this one with the children running around behind, it’s complicated. You can let those around you know that you need some quiet time, without being asked, and you set a goal for the allotted time.“, advises Vanessa Dabin-Remignon.

To achieve this state of flow, you must:

  • Finding the right balance : Identify activities that match one’s skills while providing a stimulating challenge, the right balance between aptitude and challenge.
  • Avoid distractions : It’s about creating an environment conducive to concentration by minimizing distractions (turning off notifications, isolating yourself if necessary and devoting uninterrupted time to this activity).
  • Set clear goals : The clarity of goals and their ability to be achieved allows you to maintain concentration and measure your progress.
  • Cultivate passion : Choose “passion” activities. Emotional engagement increases the chances of experiencing flow on a regular basis.

If flow is practiced in a group, there must be a common momentum, a person to coordinate and inspire this environment to allow this state. In a company, it can be the manager“, suggests the coach.

The advantages of flow

Achieving flow has various benefits. This promotes mental well-being by reducing stress and promoting positive emotions. Performance is particularly effective during flow and leads to exceptional results in preferred activities. These moments are often associated with a significant and fulfilling experience. Enough to promote a rich and satisfying life.