The Flow Lab

Ensuring integrity of flow research to meet the needs of future generations

Welcome to the FLOW LAB

Our Flow Lab is focused on creating cutting-edge research on flow within psychology, neuroscience, physiology, and sociology.

We take on research projects that advance our understanding and application of flow. View our flow fellows who actively help contribute.

Below are some models derived from our research that help us communicate flow to the broader public.

TOOLS FOR FINDING FLOW

WHAT IS FLOW?

If you are looking to understand flow, we have put together a comprehensive introduction to flow that outlines the past five decades of flow research.

The PATHWAY TO FLOW™

The Pathway to Flow™ is a rigorously tested system designed to help you find flow. The six flow skills within are based on evidence-based psychological and physiological research; it uses the latest proven techniques.

Each skill is filled with a pack of tools and theory to help you on your journey. Once we can understand the elements that make up each skill, we become better equipped to find flow.

The first 3 skills constitute what we call a Flow Mindset; an autotelic approach that makes it easier for you to frequently find flow. The second 3 skills outline how to self-regulate towards flow prior to, and within, the moment.

Join our introductory course (the Flow Certificate) or enrol in our advanced signature course (the Flow Diploma) to understand how this model can form a structure that you may use for a lifetime.

The Flow Model™

The Flow Model™ is designed to help people self-identify—in regards to their experience or behaviour— where they are in relation to flow.

The idea of the Flow Model is to place ourselves in the Flow Zone (yellow area), which requires us to first recognise how far away we are from finding flow—experiential intelligence.

Subjective Experiences Relative to Flow

The Flow Model™ details further states to identify and recognise where an individual is in relation to flow.

Below is a summary of the main components that form subjective experience and their relations to flow. Further detail of The Flow Model™ and related characteristics is available on request.

Are you a flow researcher?

As a beacon for flow, the FLOW CENTRE is always looking to digest and disseminate flow research. Let's connect.

Join our research team

Scientific Signature to FLow™

The Scientific Signature to Flow brings together over 50 years of flow research from several modalities to help us understand the flow experience.

Would you like to see our Flow Fellows and their research?

Beginnings of A Flow Theory

DEFINITION

Flow is an intrinsically rewarding state of absorption in a task in which control feels more effort-less than usual

ANTECEDENTS

Optimal Challenge

A perceived capability to meet the challenging demands of the situation

High Motivation

A high motivational force

EXPERINETIAL DIMENSIONS
Absorption

A state of absorption in the task characterised by focused, undistracted attention, and a merging of action and awareness

Effort-less Control

A high sense of control in which the task feels less effortful than is typical for that person, characterised by fluidity of performance and an absence of concern over losing control

Intrinsic Reward

An intrinsically rewarding experience characterised by positive valence and optimal levels of arousal



See: https://doi.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fbul0000337

“Optimal experience is something that you make happen.”
Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi

9 Dimensions to Flow

1. Challenge-skills balance

Flow requires an equal balance between the skill level and the challenge. If the challenge is too demanding, we get frustrated. If it is too easy, we get bored. In a flow experience, we feel engaged by the challenge, but not overwhelmed.

2. Action-awareness merging

We are often aware of and thinking about something that has happened, or might happen, in another time or place. But in flow, we are completely absorbed in the task at hand.

3. Clear Goals

In many everyday situations, there are contradictory demands and it is sometimes quite unclear what should occupy our attention. However, in a flow experience, we have a clear purpose and good grasp of what to do next.

4. Unambiguous feedback

Direct and immediate feedback is continuously present so that we are able to constantly adjust our reactions to meet the current demands. When we are in flow, we know how well we are doing, all the time.

5. Concentration on the task at hand

High levels of concentration narrows our attention excluding any unnecessary distractions. Because we are absorbed in the activity, we are only aware of what is relevant to the task at hand, and we do not think about unrelated things.

6. Sense of control

An absolute sense of personal control exists, as if we are able to do anything we want to do.

7. Loss of self-consciousness

A lack of awareness of bodily needs as self-consciousness disappears. We often spend a lot of mental energy monitoring how we appear to others. In a flow state, we are too involved in the activity to care about protecting our ego.

6. Sense of control

An absolute sense of personal control exists, as if we are able to do anything we want to do.

8. Transformation of time

A distorted sense of time occurs. Time either slows down or flies by when we are completely engaged in the moment.

9. Autotelic experience

Flow is an intrinsically rewarding activity; the activity becomes autotelic, an end in itself, done for its own sake.


The above dimensions are Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi's representation of flow in which he conducted a diverse number of research projects to understand how people find happiness, creativity, and meaning in their actions. Whilst examining his participants he observed that their most absorbed and favoured moments, which brought unrivalled emerging motivation, occurred when their thoughts and actions 'flowed'. This optimal state of being was summarised into the above nine descriptive dimensions of the experience; the first three often referred to as the pre-conditions to flow.

Learn More
One resource for everything flow including our Flow Podcast, training videos, and interviews with global flow experts.

Blog

What is my experience right now?
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Video

Flow, happiness and the future of positive psychology
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Podcast

Exploring your Sense of Self with Yogi, Sara Page
Listen