What it’s like to be in flow – quotes from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

What is flow?

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his book, Flow:

The state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.

How does it feel to be in flow?

Quotes from the book:

A rock climber explains how it feels when he is scaling a mountain: ‘You are so involved in what you are doing [that] you aren’t thinking of yourself as separate from the immediate activity….you don’t see yourself as separate from what you are doing.’

A mother who enjoys the time spent with her small daughter: ‘Her reading is the one thing that she’s really into, and we read together. She reads to me, and I read to her, and that’s a time when I sort of lose touch with the rest of the world, I’m totally absorbed in what i’m doing.’

A chess player tells of playing in a tournament: ‘…the concentration is like breathing- you never think of it. The roof could fall in and, if it missed you, you would be unaware of it.’

Here is how a dancer expresses this dimension of the flow experience: ‘A strong relaxation and calmness comes over me. I have no worries of failure. what a powerful and warm feeling it is! i want to expand, to hug the world. I feel enormous power to effect sth of grace and beauty.”

… [O]r, in the case of this member of a Japanese motorcycle gang, the “run” of hundreds of cycles roaring down the streets of Kyoto: ‘I understand something, when all of our feelings get tuned up. When running, we are not in complete harmony from the start. But if the Run begins to go well, all of us, all of us feel for the others. How can i say this? …. [W]hen our minds become one. at such a time, it’s a real pleasure… when all of us become one, I understand something… all of a sudden I realize, ‘oh, we’re one’ and think, ‘if we speed as fast as we can, it will become a real Run.’ …. [W]hen we realize that we become one flesh, it’s supreme. When we get high on speed. At such a moment, it’s really super.’