Creativity & Flow State: A Brief History
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Creativity & Flow State: A Brief History

Today, we’ll be diving into the brief history of creativity, flow state, and how the two are connected.

In the 1970s a psychologist by the name of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi began his research into what he described as “the secret to happiness”. Since his research, many other well-known researchers around the world began looking into this phenomenon and have dubbed it many things such as: “the source of inspiration” and the feeling of being intensely “locked in”.

This phenomenon is known most commonly today as The Flow State.

The flow state is defined as a by-product of total and complete immersion in an activity, where focus, creativity, motivation, and more are intensely spiked. Many of the most popular artists in the world, whether it be through visual or music, have noted that their best work came whilst being in this flow state.

You may have experienced this feeling before. A sense of being “locked in”, where time seems to slow down, yet at the same time, fly by. Maybe you were doing some work, some creative activity, or even something as small as washing the dishes, chances are you were doing that and it felt as though you blinked and time just flew by.

The flow state is a topic of immense interest in both the scientific and creative communities. It is said that the flow state is also the most addictive state that one could possibly experience through natural means.

Many professional athletes attribute some of their greatest performances to this flow state as well. In the athletic community, this feeling of flow state is known as

being “in the zone” where your sense are heightened and your reaction time, focus, and overall effectiveness are dramatically increased whilst in this state.

Naturally, due to the benefits of being in a flow state, people have tried to find any possible way to enter it to improve their work, creative hobby and more. Some people have gotten close while using certain supplements called Nootropics that do about 90% of the work to get one into a flow state, but it also needs to be accompanied by a task the user is relatively familiar with.

This brings us to the next important topic to note: Flow state happens in an activity where the user has considerable experience in. This is usually either through a very repetitious task such as the previous example of washing dishes; Or through something the subject has put a considerable amount of practice into, like an artist in their craft.

Another way of describing the flow state in these environments would be “muscle memory”. Muscle memory happens when you do a task enough times that you do not need to even think about it, and your body will perform it with effortless action.

Many famous artists note this feeling while they are painting, drawing, etc. where they may say they “felt” as though creativity itself was painting through the artist.

The topic of not thinking is important, as it has found that thought in itself of any kind is a direct obstacle of realizing this flow state.

Many monks and high-level meditators have known this for quite a while that in deep stages of meditation, one achieves the state of “no mind” yet at the same time, intense focus, thus inducing themselves into a flow state.

On a more scientific side, flow state has been described as a hard-to-reach state of peak performance. In fact, when studied in the workplace, it was found that people who work within this flow state, are on average nearly 500% more productive than those who are not. [R]

This is a considerable benefit that very few things can give to a person, which is why the flow state is so highly revered by scientists and creative persons alike.

Lastly, we’ll dive into some practical tips as for how to enter into this flow state.

For starters, it’s imperative that you are in a 100% distraction-free environment. Some ways that people do this would be by silencing notifications on their phone or computer, working in a quiet place, or using noise-canceling headphones.

The second step to do is to make sure your task is something that you’re relatively familiar in. You don’t need complete muscle memory, but the more the better.

Lastly, focus on the task at hand, and the more you can do with the least amount of involvement from the active mind, the more you will get into a state of flow.

Do not worry if it feels like you cannot do it at first. For many people it is something that will require some practice, but as discussed earlier the benefits are well worth it.

Remember that the flow state has many different levels to it. Beginners to deep work may find themselves in a say “level one” flow state, whereas people with many years of experience in their craft, or deep meditators may experience “level ten” flow state.

With practice, you can and will achieve deeper and deeper flow states, and through this practice, you will find that not only will you be able to get more done in less time, but also the work you do will be of a much higher quality.

In recap, the flow state is a state of peak performance, where characteristics such as creativity, focus, and motivation are at their highest possible levels. This state can be achieved through deep, distraction-free work, or through a state of “no mind” but they are largely the same.

Overall I thoroughly hope you enjoyed this brief history/overview of the phenomena of the flow state. Make sure to browse around Art Daily for even more high-quality and in-depth articles. Until next time.

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Creativity & Flow State: A Brief History

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