Zen stack

We need to Accept w Wisdom, Change w Courage, and FLOW around lives challenges!


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the former head of
psychology at the University of Chicago.

Noted for his work in happiness and creativity –
Csikszentmihalyi is best known as the architect
of the notion of flow.

What is flow?

According to experts, “Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus,
full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.”

Athletes call it “The Zone.”

According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is completely focused motivation. It’s a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing
emotions in the service of performing and learning.

In flow the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand.

The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task.

Can you start thinking of ways being in “Flow” could help you in particular areas of your life?

Csikszentmihalyi identified these 9 factors that accompany the “Flow” experience:

1- Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one’s skill set and abilities). Moreover, the challenge level and skill level should both be high.

2- Concentrating, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and
to delve deeply into it).

3- A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.

4- Distorted sense of time, one’s subjective experience of time is altered.

5- Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).

6- Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).

7- A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.

8- The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.

9- People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.

Sounds like a lot to consciously focus on, doesn’t it? But in true FLOW it just happens!



Recently while sitting and running a parenting group, the topic and/or question came up of “How do we start focusing on the positive rather than what’s wrong?”  This topic tends to be a general issue rather than a parent specific issue.  The issue at hand is that we spend more time focusing on what is wrong and thinking by doing this we can fix what is wrong and that our issues and troubles will be over.  The struggle is that when we spend our time on what is wrong we tend to see it as a continual stream of wrong.
I enjoy working on motorcycles. I like being able to take a motorcycle that isn’t functioning well and by process of illumination, track down what is wrong and fix it.  After stripping it down, this strategy works in helping me find the issue and putting the bike back together. The bike then tends to work more effectively. While this strategy may work on bikes, this does not work when it comes to human beings.  Human beings are more complex creatures than a simple animate object that is designed to do specific tasks. Since it tends to work well in those areas, we have the tendency to apply this philosophy to the complexity of humanity.   I cannot look at myself and simply through a process of elimination, track down one simple issue, fix it, and have my life become flawless from there forward.
There are a series of factors that play into the issues we all wrestle with.  Rather than spending our energy focusing on fixing what is wrong, there is a more effective strategy when it comes to dealing with humans and our own humanity.  One way is to simply shift our focus to look for those things that are “working” and “not working” in our lives.  When I identify the “working” pieces of my life, I can then start to see them as universal truths. I can then apply these truths not only to the issues they are working for but also use them on the things I may be struggling with.  For example, if I have the ability to let go of obsessive thoughts when it comes to work, that means I have the tools to let go of obsessive thoughts.  Therefore, if I am struggling with obsessive thoughts in my personal life, by focusing on how I am dealing with them in my work life and the processes I used to let go, I can then apply these same tools to my personal life for similar results.

We as human beings have a tendency to default to wrong and right thinking when it comes to problem solving. That may work on a carburetor; it does not work on hearts and minds of men and women.

Dean N Nixon
Seminar Director, Life Coach