Gwonsang Shin

Air Traffic Control Specialist, Republic of Korea Air Force

This conversation is closed.

Is 'Flow' directly related to happiness?

When you are experiencing Flow, you get so absorbed in doing something that you lose all awareness of time and other things around you (even the problems). This state was defined by Dr.Csikszentmyhalyi. One of the requirement for a state of Flow is that the activity has to be challenging.

I experience the state of Flow a lot. I think that experiencing Flow is kind of happiness. But Dr. Csikszentmyhalyi said there is a definite difference between Flow and the happiness. Because if you are in a state of Flow, you won't aware whether you feel happy or not.

Now, I am so curious about the difference between them. Focusing on something and doing something enthusiastically makes people satisfied. This is happiness exactly! People want to work and do something that they can focus on. Why? They feel happy from that!

What do you think?

  • thumb
    Nov 9 2012: Flow can be if you desire it to be:

    Psychologist Martin Seligman provides the acronym PERMA to summarize Positive Psychology's correlational findings: humans seem happiest when they have
    1.Pleasure (tasty foods, warm baths, etc.),
    2.Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity),
    3.Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indicator of happiness),
    4.Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger), and
    5.Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals).

    Notice that flow is under #2. However it should be noted that these are observable traits when humans seem happiest.

    The actual defination is very fuzzy and the term happy means so many different things to so many people.

    So here is the deal ... happiness is a personal thing. If it makes you happy then good for you. However that very same thing may not make me happy.

    I love books. What if I gave all of my grandkids books for Christmas. They would say thank you and walk off. But if I gave them ipods I would probally get a kiss and hugs. What makes me happy may not be the other persons cup of tea.

    So in summary go with the flow (for you) and I will go back to reading and we will be happy.

    I am happy for you ... all the best. Bob.
  • thumb
    Nov 9 2012: I think:

    (1) Valid happiness: --- the short-time feeling of things being a-step-better for keeping one’s DNA alive.

    (2) “Flow”: --- the feeling of many ‘a-step-better’ s connected tightly without interruptions; and all the “CPU” of one’s brain are completely occupied by it leaving nothing for processing any kind of unhappiness.

    That is why we feel thoroughly happy and have extraordinary efficiency.

  • thumb
    Nov 8 2012: I think, perhaps, Dr. C means that one is not conscious of happiness during flow, but the effect of the remembered experience is euphoria.
    • Nov 9 2012: Players of many sports will talk about being in a "zone". When they achieve this state, they might hit home runs effortlessly, bowl a 300 game or solve a math problem that might stump them for years. When in the zone (or flow as you call it) my playing strength in chess goes from mediocre to strong master strength. It only happens about 1% of the time, yet when it happens I don't consciously "think" I just put my pieces and pawns on the squares where they belong usually taking only a few seconds to make each move. I call this phase of thought competitive intuition. Once in the flow or zone, I took on one of the strongest players in the country and held him to a draw; when not in a zone or flow, I'd lose 100 out of 100 games to him. And yes, it was euphoria whenever I think about the games when I am in the flow.