Thoughts on Flow

“It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.”

-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, since I’m in the process of making lots of new things. Moving through ideas and the experience of creation is something that I’ve determined is a non-negotiable priority in my day-to-day rhythm; there is so much revitalization that happens when the doors are open to allow possibility to flow freely. 

My husband finds this same revitalization riding his bike on local trails. He’s on his bicycle every day, in the hot, in the cold, in the rain, in the snow – in all of the things, he rides, and he says it gives him life, and I believe him. 

“Flow” author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi believes that we each have infinite opportunities to grow into and expand ourselves by developing our unique curiosities and crafting our own skills and interests. This engagement, this work, with our minds and/or our bodies is, to Mr. C, the very thing that lends life its vigor. I tend to agree – the happiest, and most engaged with life that I have felt has been in moments of stretching myself, mining my own creative and intellectual limits, working through new and interesting problems, on my own or in the company of others. 

In the therapy room, that “flow” experience is often described wistfully, as a hopeful afterthought. We crave a certain amount of room to create, or to ride, to find our passions and stretch out in them for awhile – but we have SO MANY other things to do, and anything that isn’t a Must Do feels like a self-indulgence. So, we put it off, or temporarily let the impulse go, and in so doing we sometimes forget altogether these elements of ourselves that are so foundational to who we are. 

There’s no shame in this – I believe our society pushes us to work as much as possible and play…never… but I want to make a humble bid that we fight for our flow experiences, in whatever ways they might be possible at the time. They might be the very things that keep us human, the things that make our lives worthwhile. 

The making of things, the riding of bikes…

What makes you feel alive?

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