Is “flow” the secret to happiness?
Can you think of a time when you’ve been so engrossed doing something that everything else melted away? You didn’t check your phone, you forgot about your to-do list, you even forgot to eat for hours.
Studies have found that achieving this ‘state of flow’ is a big driver of happiness. In the short term, flow produces positive emotions, while long-term benefits can help you live a happier, more satisfying life.
So how do you find flow? The secret is finding a balance between the challenge and your skills. You want to find something that is challenging enough to keep your brain active, but something that you have skills in to continually improve. If the task is too easy or too hard, you won’t find your rhythm.
Choosing an activity that opens you up to new feelings, experiences and positive emotions is also essential to finding flow. And if you really want to encourage flow, experts recommend overcoming the urge to stop at every mistake, and focus on the large goal with a smile!
Ready to find your flow? Try one of these five happiness boosting activities!
Learning a language
Flow, as the name suggests, is about moving and challenging yourself, upskilling or expanding your mindset. And there’s no better example than learning a language. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a confident polyglot, continual learning and practice will stretch your knowledge and invite greater flow.
With so many language courses, books, podcasts and apps out there, not only is it an activity that is easy to immerse yourself in, but it’s also easy to track your improvement. And when someone comments on your impressive language skills, that dose of pride will be another boost of happiness!
Even if you’ve never picked up a paintbrush, it’s easy to imagine the feeling you get seeing a painting come to life through your own creativity. Start with a simple paint-by-numbers or print out your favorite travel photo and try recreating that on a large canvas. Not only will you get a dose of happiness, but you’ll also have a new piece of art to brighten up your walls.
Yoga deepens your connection to your body, but it can also remove the stress and tension that often blocks flow. Practicing yoga regularly will not only increase your strength and flexibility, but it will also help you create a sense of happiness and calm in your day.
Learning a musical instrument
Like languages, learning a musical instrument has long been linked to finding flow. Maybe you want to pick up an instrument you played in school, or you’ve always dreamt of learning the guitar? With extra time on your hands, now is the perfect time to get started.
It should come as no surprise that running is a great flow activity. The steady rhythm of your feet hitting the pavement, the physical challenge and the continual push to faster or longer are all key aspects of flow-producing activities. Don’t worry if all you feel is hurt after your first ever run, but with consistency over time, you’ll be surprised how quickly it can develop into a positive, slightly addictive, activity.
So now you know the secret to happiness, it’s up to you to unleash that superpower. Look for experiences and activities that engage you, excite you and challenge you, so you can experience the rush of happiness and satisfaction that being in a state of flow delivers.