Flow reminds me a lot of art processes, and of Zen-existence.

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.  (wiki)

I've being watching Yale's course on Psychology by professor Tamar Gendler (Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature), and was introduced to this concept when I was on lecture 9 out of 26 on around 29th minute:

Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature pairs central texts from Western philosophical tradition (including works by Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Hobbes, Kant, Mill, Rawls, and Nozick) with recent findings in cognitive science and related fields. The course is structured around three intertwined sets of topics: Happiness and Flourishing; Morality and Justice; and Political Legitimacy and Social Structures.

Csíkszentmihályi and Nakamura identify the following six factors of flow, that constitute a flow experience only in combination:

  1. Intense and focused concentration on the present moment - almost required for artists;
  2. Merging of action and awareness - concentration on own handwork almost effortlessly emerges;
  3. A loss of reflective self-consciousness - when you are after realizing your idea;
  4. A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity - you forget you are yourself;
  5. A distortion of temporal experience, one's subjective experience of time is altered;
  6. An experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience.

Note: in German autotelic (having a purpose in and not apart from itself) =
Existenzbestimmung in sich enthaltend.

Csíkszentmihályi (1997) published this graph (skill level / challenge level):

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f6/Challenge_vs_skill.svg/246px-Challenge_vs_skill.svg.png

In order to achieve flow, Csikszentmihalyi lays out the following three conditions:

  1. Goals are clear;
  2. Feedback is immediate - what you see is what you get in art almost always;
  3. A balance between opportunity and capacity.

Schaffer (2013) proposed 7 flow conditions:

  1. Knowing what to do - an artist is usually led by desire to achieve something specific;
  2. Knowing how to do it - artists have skills;
  3. Knowing how well you are doing - artists examine their steps;
  4. Knowing where to go (if navigation is involved);
  5. High perceived challenges - artists create non-existing beauty;
  6. High perceived skills - skills are either there or not required;
  7. Freedom from distractions.

I want the #7 the most now :)


Flow reminds me a lot of art processes, and Zen-existence.
Flow, Zen

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