Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (that is not a typo) was the first person to describe the state of “flow” or what we better know as “in the zone”. It’s that moment when we do something and are so utterly, yet effortlessly focused on that task that we perform at our best and with joy. It’s essentially the state of play. Csikszentmihalyi conducted an experiment where he asked people to remove flow from their lives. They couldn’t do anything that made them happy. They had to do whatever was needed to live their life but if cooking made them happy, they couldn’t cook, they had to order food. No TV, no reading, no, ahem, self gratification. Nothing. No fun allowed. He asked them to do this for 5 days.
What happened? People couldn’t get past 48 hours. People got headaches, couldn’t concentrate, felt sleepy and were depressed. Mihaly said “After just two days of deprivation…the general deterioration in mood was so advanced that prolonging the experiment would have been inadvisable.”
Excuse me? That’s insane. What’s the moral of the story? Do the things you love. Do what makes you intrinsically happy and then do more of it. Stop waiting for someone to allow you to do it or for the time to be right. Your body needs you to do it, physically and emotionally.
Want to write a poem? Write a poem. Like baking cookies? Bake more cookies. Better to have baked a cookie than baked no cookie at all. Your body needs outlets. If you find yourself being frustrated and complaining a lot, stop, breathe and figure out what it is that’s fun for you. Go do that for a little bit. Go do that for a lot of bit.
It’s so outrageously simple yet we don’t do it enough.