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Over the last couple of years, the self-development industry experienced an incredibly rapid rate of growth. A growth which is projected to not only be maintained over the next decade but continue to rise on a steep trajectory.
This era of increased awareness of mental health, self-recognition and the pursuit of happiness is what is expected to drive the demand for further personal development content.
Due to the competitive world we live in, people are seeking methods to improve or attain all sorts of personal skills, characteristics, habits, mindsets and emotional control. As well as striving for ways to attain not only physical but mental and emotional health. The importance of these things has become widely recognised to encompass overall health and understood to be vital for optimal performance. The notions of working as many hours as possible to maximise productivity are outdated. These old schools of thought are fading away as current research shows their inefficacy and damage to productivity and well-being.
It is no longer acceptable to be ignorant about the importance of psychological, emotional, and cognitive health. These affect human performance and well-being greatly and without the right care and training in ALL of these domains, you WILL lag behind more and more in this modern world. With the internet, the resources are available for most, and there are no excuses for not researching and investing in yourself.
Flow’s role in self-development is thought to go beyond optimal functioning, well-being and mental health remedies, but also to have far-reaching implications in fabricating our individual identity and evolution.
In a recent study by Antonella Delle Fave, President of International Positive Psychology Association and Editor in Chief of the Springer Group’s Journal of Happiness Studies, Flow experiences were deemed a major contributor to how we think and what we do. Meaning that the benefits of Flow are so rewarding that the brain is constantly subconsciously engineering our thoughts and decisions in order to find more Flow in our lives.
This suggests Flow shapes what narratives and activities we deem to be important to us. Echoing the notion that ‘we become what we believe’ and ‘we are what we do’.
I’m sure many of you know what he is talking about. Have you ever been stressed out, and just wanted to go to the gym, or listen to music, or meditate? These are similar to Flow in that they require your attention to the present moment with little distraction. These activities can take you away from your current stress when we need it. When you experience an immersive Flow state during certain activities, your subconscious gears you towards recreating that experience substantially.
Even though our genetics, the environment and our cultural inheritance help to shape our life’s trajectories and personal development, our mind also plays a moment-to-moment role in selecting information and making decisions. Because flow is so intrinsically rewarding and the mind and body is innately attracted towards the internal harmony experienced in Flow, there is a continuous bias towards it that governs much of our decision-making, knowingly or not.
Flow can be so rewarding that we can engage in activities that produce flow, even if the activity bears risk or potential negative consequences. It is why graffiti artists risk being arrested, rock climbers risk their lives, people work into the night without recognition, or why we often develop hobbies that feel good but aren’t very productive. Our subconscious presses us to continue these activities beyond rational reasoning in order to experience more Flow. In doing so, these activities can reveal our true interests, and help us to uncover new capabilities as we stretch ourselves in various ways.
This complex layering of skills and continuous growth advances us as human beings. We develop mastery of the context and improve our ability to navigate our socio cultural environment. These skills help us survive and become better equipped to operate in our environment.