Mike, Former Head of Psychology at University of Chicago. Been regarded as the world’s leading researcher in positive psychology. Gave TED Talk
When an Olympic sprinter is about to launch off from the starting line, I would venture he wouldn’t care if his underwear ripped and people all around saw it. Sometimes when you are talking with a friend… For that period of time, Thoughts, feelings, and actions are all aligned
When you think back to the best moments of your life, were there periods of Flow?
Personal growth almost always results from a flow activity. Acquiring skills, be it physical or in your head.
Eating, sleeping, and pooping, while pleasant, are not flow experiences because they are simply restorative processes, meant to bring your attention from your body back to other things. Likewise, lounging on a beach is a restorative process to relax away and destress, bringing your body back to homeostasis. These things don’t allow you to grow.
Intrinsic goals vs external goals Tennis player, you can rely on external goals Artist, you probably have to develop more intrinsic goals
Tennis player, is the ball in the other court? If not, did I hit it back there? Psychiatrist, may not see results for 10 years given the cure. But he picks up on other subtle cues i.e. patient’s facial expression, hesitation in their voice
To experience flow, you have to prove to yourself that you are in control. Or rather, you can exercise control in face of difficult situations. The best way is to gather evidence.
Between TV and lacing up your shoes to go training for your marathon, which one is easier? In the previous chart, if your skill is not improving at the same rate as the challenge, you become worried and anxious
One of the most frequently mentioned enjoyable activities in the world Attention, Goal, Literacy, to Visualize the story, etc.
Flow: Being in the Zone - Terry Ng
Flow – Being in the Zone
How To Forget to Eat, Sleep, and Poop
By: Terry Ng
Flow vs relaxation
• “Flow occurs when either a person’s body or mind is stretched to its
limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and
• The activity may not be pleasant i.e. your legs ache during a
How to achieve flow – select a challenge
• A challenge matched appropriately with skill level
How to achieve flow – clarify goals
• Make it as unambiguous as possible
1) be the first sprinter to run pass the finish line vs
2) be a successful entrepreneur
How to achieve flow – get immediate
• Flow occurs when you are receiving a constant stream of feedback
suggesting you are doing all right
How to achieve flow – concentrate
• Where is your attention directed?
10% on how good you’re doing
10% on if you are even competent enough
20% on whether you should be doing something else
5% on if people are judging you right now
55% on the task
How to achieve flow – lack of worry
• Let the worst happen and prove to yourself that it’s not bad
So why is it hard to achieve flow?
• Initial investment of energy and attention
• Threat against self
Universal flow activities: socializing
• Why? They are forced to continually invest their attention at the
other person, no time to wonder about other things
• Flow is noticeably experienced when somebody brings up an
awesome topic or a common goal
Flow during free time
• With our free time, we lack a clear purpose like we have at work
• Americans spend more free time on activities that are less likely to
produce flow i.e. T.V.
• Games and sports have clearly defined rules and goals
Flow at work
• Surprisingly, more flow is experienced at work than during free time
• So why do we hate work?
So what can you do now?
• Whatever you are pursuing now, considering setting your own intrinsic
goals and metrics that allow for an ongoing stream of feedback
• Follow the “do-something” principle
• Read on the beach