How to increase happiness, fun and flow in your everyday life!
Have you ever been on a first date, and before you know it the waiters are packing up the tables, frostily checking their watches and looking at the bill still waiting to be paid on the table? Or have you been out with a friend for lunch and suddenly it's dinner time? Or even been at work completing a task and time goes so fast that everyone has packed up and gone home? Well, then you have experienced what Martin Seligman called flow.
Flowwas first developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and he described it as “a state of optimal experience that occurs when a person is totally immersed in an activity”. Flow is a key aspect of Martin Seligman’s revolutionary theory of PERMAwhich I describe in more detail in my article The positive power of PERMA.
This state comes naturally in some situations but unfortunately not in others. It has been found to be hugely beneficial to our general emotional and mental health and well-being. This is because it leads to personal growth through an increased motivation to practice and improve in a certain area or take part in activities that bring us joy. It has also been linked with higher levels of physical health, motivation, self-esteem and positivity as well as academic and professional achievement!
In my empowerment coaching practice, I always incorporate flow into sessions as it can be a simple, fun and effective way of increasing positive emotions within clients. It can be especially effective with those who need relationship advice, personal development, anxiety support or career coaching (for more information on this area please see my article How to jump start your job satisfaction.
If you feel you would like to improve any of these areas try these easy activities in order to gain more engagement and flow from your daily lives.
Firstly answer the following questions to see if you are regularly experiencing flowengagement in your daily activities. Answer each question using the following scale;
- strongly disagree
- moderately disagree
- neither agree nor disagree
- moderately agree
- strongly agree
1. I find pleasure and fulfilment in my everyday activities.
2. I feel excited and curious about many things I am interested in.
3. I often lose track of time while doing something I enjoy.
4. I make choices that are resonant with my unique strengths and values.
5. I know my personal strengths and engage them regularly in daily tasks.
Once you have answered the questions, add up your totals out of a possible 25. If you scored 0 to 10 you have low experiences of flow and if you scored 15 to 25 you frequently have high experiences of flow state.
If you fell into the low levels of flow do not worry! Not only do anxiety and stress make flow harder to achieve but it is also unnecessary as flow isn’t something we are innately born with, it is adaptable and a skill to be learned and practised every day! Making small changes to your daily routine can radically increase your levels of engagement and consequently levels of well-being and positivity!
Now we have an idea of your level of regular flow state try the tasks below in order to increase them.
- List examples of the most recent times you felt you were in a flow state. If you struggle to think of occasions think back further, even if it was a long time ago. These don’t have to be life-changing experiences but just times in which you were truly absorbed in the activity you were doing and found it enjoyable. For instance, watching your favourite TV show, reading a book, chatting with a friend, listening to music, playing a sport, teaching a lesson, or working with colleagues on a work project.
- Now using these examples try to identify if there are any recurring traits that appear such as social interaction, a certain genre of music, films, or books, a hobby or skill or even a type of task in your job.
- If you feel you do not often fall into the flow state try listing your best skills, qualities, or strengths from areas of your life including work, home, hobbies and relationships that make you feel positive, satisfied or proud such as friendliness, intelligence, empathy or perseverance.
- Now this is the fun part! Once you have highlighted areas in your life that bring you engagement, satisfaction, pleasure and flow incorporate these into areas of your life which do not!
An example of this is one which I have recently used personally. As summer is upon us, I wanted to get more physical activity so decided to go for a walk every lunchtime at work. As simple as this sounds, I found it very difficult as I felt guilty for not working through my lunch break and it was extremely dull! So, I decided to include flow in my day.
Contrary to popular belief I may not be as cool as I put across and one of my favourite things in life is Game of Thrones. So, to combine this into an area I wasn’t enjoying I started listening to a Game of Thrones podcast or audiobook during my walk each lunchtime. Suddenly it became one of my favourite parts of the day! It not only allowed me to get some exercise, but I could also get my geek fix for the day and relieve some work stress by getting out for 30 minutes!
So, if you love reading try getting a new book for your commute to work, if you love Foo Fighters listen to their new album while completing a work project or if you love social interaction plan gym visits with a friend! In life, unfortunately, we very often have to do things we don’t particularly enjoy so the important thing is that you have as much funas you can while doing them! As I discussed in my article The happiness balance.
Finding pleasure and joy in our daily lives is essential in decreasing stress, anxiety and negative mood while also increasing our levels of overall self-esteem, confidence, resilience, happiness and emotional empowerment. Flow states do not have to be difficult, that is the point, they should be fun!
I hope you have found these activities and advice useful. If you have any further questions or would like more information on increasing your daily levels of engagement, joy, fun and flow please contact me.