Do you ever find yourself seeking a more meaningful and satisfying way to live your life? In this blog post, I’ll explore practical tips and insights inspired by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book, “Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life.”
Discover how to find your flow and make the most of your time, ultimately improving your overall quality of life!
🤔 What Does “Life” Mean?
Everyone wants to improve their quality of life. But before you try to enhance it, you need to understand what “life” entails. What is the definition of life? Does it seem like an overwhelmingly broad topic?
That’s what I thought until I read the book, “Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
After reading it, I realized that life is simple: it’s what you experience daily until your last day.
🕰️ What Determines the Quality of Life?
If life is what you experience every day, improving the content of your daily experiences will inevitably enhance your life’s quality.
The quality of your life depends on how you spend your time every day.
Your task is to engineer your daily life so that you spend as much time as possible on meaningful activities. If you don’t take this task seriously, you’ll waste your most precious resource: time.
🧠 The Normal Condition of Your Mind
When you don’t intentionally decide how to spend your time, the normal condition of your mind takes over, which is chaos.
Meditation is a great example of this; try meditating for 10 minutes, and you’ll likely find your mind wandering to random thoughts.
🔀 Active vs. Passive Escapes from Chaos
There are two ways to escape the chaos of your mind: actively and passively.
Actively investing your psychic energy and focusing on an activity is more challenging than passively consuming content like scrolling through social media or watching TV. All digital media platforms are engineered to “feed” you forever. Scroll through your LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook feed. You’ll never get to the bottom.
However, engaging in active leisure time, such as playing sports, painting, or spending time with loved ones, leads to personal growth and exhilaration.
To truly improve your quality of life, it’s essential to prioritize active engagement and increase time spent in flow.
🌊 Increase Time Spent in Flow
The formula for a high-quality life is simple: aim to increase the time you spend in flow.
Flow occurs when you have clear goals and focus on them, leaving no room for negative thoughts.
📊 Dividing Your Time
People generally spend 50% of their waking time on productive activities like work, 25% on maintenance tasks like eating and grooming, and 25% on leisure.
Let’s explore how to increase flow time in each category.
🎯 Enhancing Leisure Time
Leisure time offers the most freedom to decide how to spend your time.
Csikszentmihalyi says that
“amateurs—those who do something because they love to do it—add enjoyment and interest to their own life, and to everybody else’s.”
Explore activities that interest you and help you enter a state of flow.
🎯 Maximizing Your Time at Work
Ideally, your job gives you meaning and challenges you. If that’s not the case, consider switching your job to something more meaningful and growth-oriented.
If switching jobs isn’t an option, there are ways to add value to your job, such as developing an autotelic personality and working toward your own personal goals within your job.
🔄🥷 Become a Kaizen Ninja
One way to add value to your job and find flow is by adopting the mindset of continuous improvement, also known as Kaizen.
If you find your work boring and routine, become a Kaizen Ninja, focusing on incremental improvements. Pay attention to the way you do things, improve your work environment, and provide more positive outcomes within your work.
Make it a goal to “find the extraordinary in the ordinary!“
🎯 Finding Flow in Daily Maintenance Tasks
Mindfulness can help you find flow even during daily maintenance tasks. For example, instead of quickly eating while checking your phone, savor each bite. While brushing your teeth or flossing, focus on each tooth rather than letting your mind wander.
As Kelly McGonigal said,
“Almost any experience is improved by paying full attention to it.”
🚀 Steps to Engineer Your Daily Activities for Maximum Flow
If you’re unsure about what activities give you flow, Csikszentmihalyi outlines some steps in his book to help you find it:
1️⃣ Pay Attention to Your Daily Activities
Notice how you feel during different activities, places, times of the day, or with different companions.
2️⃣ Reflect on Your Activities
At the end of the day, reflect on what conditions gave you flow and which activities made you feel stressed or depressed.
Increase the frequency of activities that move you into flow and decrease those that make you stressed and depressed.
🌟 Take Action to Improve the Quality of Your Life
Find activities that bring you into a state of flow and take control of how you spend your time. By consciously focusing on meaningful activities and cultivating an autotelic mindset, you can transform your daily experiences and improve your overall quality of life.
Start today! Experiment with different activities, develop mindfulness, and make the most of your work, leisure, and maintenance time. With persistence and intention, you can create a more fulfilling and enjoyable life!