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Flow is the Answer to Aristotle's Call: Be the Greatest Version of Yourself
The concept of flow originates from the study of optimal psychological experience, in an effort to answer the question, what constitutes meaning in our lives and highly engaged fulfilling experiences?
Can we reverse engineer such experiences and replicate more of it into our lives?
Through advancements in psychology and neuroscience, we are able to conceptualise and understand the answer to these questions more than ever before. Why do these characteristics of the flow state experience have such a monumental and life changing effect on us?
In flow we unleash biological abilities that we would’ve never known to exist. Without the usual distracting and critical thoughts that often consume our minds, we allow ourselves to perform to our optimum, explore our talents, realise new capacities. Creating precious moments where we live with our unshackled true self.
Moreover, in doing so, we realise that this state of being has been residing within us during our whole life; we just rarely tap into it.
Such an experience of self-discovery and empowerment leaves us feeling energized and fulfilled; often leaving us craving more of it. They can drive years of effort and become a backbone to overcoming adversity simply to experience it again. Intimate experiences with flow can literally organise and prioritise an individual’s life experiences.
Flow is also a primary reason why so many people go through such extreme lengths and put themselves through incredible risk and hardship purely for the sake of an experience; it is why flow experiences are so prevalent in extreme sports, for example.
Once it's on the radar, we are continually evaluating the “flowability” of situations, directing our thinking and engagement. This subtle guidance not only aims to help us feel fulfilled from deep engagement but also aims to help us seek out more of our true selves within these experiences; the complexity and depth of experience allow individuals to expand abilities and find true capacities. It can not only be the difference between success and failure, but an engaging and meaningful life, or not.
"Flow captures the intention of all life experiences and is certainly the intention or stated purpose of every human endeavour, be it individual or group, team or institution. All the ‘iatry’ (care) aspects of the helping sciences (e.g. Psychiatry and psychology, medicine and all the human sciences and social sciences) are embroiled in the task of pursuing flow. This is ultimately the purpose of human existence for we wish always to have a better world laced with care and of course a living performance level that enables all to contribute to the best of their capacity moment-to-moment.”
John Hendry, distinguished Professor (OAM).
Being in a flow state creates such a richness in our experiences that it seems to echo Aristotle’s call for us all to find and live with our true selves.
A central premise to Aristotle’s idea about living life was that focusing on what truly matters is important. Our time on this earth is so incredibly short, that it is such a shame to let it slip by. Each experience, from moment-to-moment, is valuable and should be prioritised as such.
Most of us tend to live our lives putting our experience aside in order to get on with more important things such as being more productive. We often settle for mediocre experiences because we are too busy striving and surviving, or maybe we are naively hoping that eventually we will be rewarded for our hard work. This way, our present moment becomes a means to an end; and ‘the beat goes on’ Consequently, many of us tolerate the boredom of the day-to-day or sacrifice experiences that we truly value for these future promises. We literally watch life slip through between our very fingers.