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“To overcome the anxieties and depression of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments...
...To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself...
...She has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances”
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
The benefits of the Flow state is not only applicable to performance. Countless studies have linked Flow with happiness and well-being.
Daily experiences of Flow have been associated with job satisfaction; positivity and commitment in employees; life satisfaction in primary students and school teachers; high self-esteem, low anxiety, and well-being in employees, athletes, musicians, primary students, undergraduate students, teachers and the elderly. These benefits are seen consistently and throughout the entire population.
How could this be?
Flow enables us to reinterpret challenges which you may have deemed as unmanageable and therefore anxious when thinking about them. When in Flow, difficulties are embraced. There is no fear of what others think or conflicting and doubtful thoughts that you might otherwise willingly take on the challenge.
The stress which arises from resisting such difficulties and procrastinating or avoiding these challenges diminishes. Instead, we see these challenges as stepping stones to higher functioning, we see these as opportunities to stretch, grow, and test yourself.
When we don’t recognise life stressors as threats to our comfort or competence, but instead as positive opportunities, then there is no reason for our brain to stress. Which is how the Flow state allows us to embrace challenging situations and thrive through the stressors of life.
It is a natural and sustainable coping mechanism for stress.
Let's get a bit more specific.