It is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. 

In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one’s sense of time.

It is a blending of action and consciousness.

It is a state of finding a balance between a skill and a challenging task that it is. 

Flow requires a high level of concentration.

It appears to be effortless. 

Flow provides a coping skill for stress and anxiety when productively pursuing a form of leisure that matches one’s skill set.

The flow state shares many characteristics with hyperfocus, but the latter is not always described in a positive light. 

Hyperfocus is often mentioned in the context of autism, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, manifestations/conditions that have consequences on attentional abilities.

The six components of flow:

Intense and focused concentration on the present moment

Merging of action and awareness

A loss of reflective self-consciousness

A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity

A distortion of temporal experience, as the subjective experience of time is altered

Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding

Part of the flow experience includes:

Immediate feedback

Feeling the potential to succeed

Feeling so engrossed in the experience, that other needs become negligible

It is referred to as effortless attention.

Psychologists have found that one’s mind can attend to only a certain amount of information at a time: that number is about 110 bits of information per second.

Decoding speech takes about 40–60 bits of information per second, which is why when having a conversation, one cannot focus as much attention on other things.

Individuals have the ability to decide what they will give their full attention to.

When one experiences flow, a subconscious phenomenon, they are completely immersed in a certain activity. 

People who are experiencing flow are no longer aware of the environment around them, such as the time, others around, distractions, and even basic bodily needs.

In the flow state, people are completely engrossed with the one task at hand and, without making the conscious decision to do so, lose awareness of all other things: time, people, distractions, and even basic bodily needs.

All of the attention of  person in the flow state is on the task at hand; there is no more attention to be allocated.

The flow state is an optimal experience that one gets to a level of high gratification from the experience.

Achieving this experience is considered to be personal and depends on the abilities of an individual.

The flow state can be entered while performing any activity.

Flow is more likely to occur when the task or activity is wholeheartedly engaged for intrinsic purposes.

Passive activities such as taking a bath or even watching TV, usually do not elicit a flow experience.

There are three conditions that must be met to achieve flow:

The activity must have clear goals and progress.

The task must provide clear and immediate feedback. 

Good balance is required between the perceived challenges of the task and one’s perceived skills. 

Confidence in the ability to complete the task is required.

Flow requires that the goals are clear, and feedback is effective. 

Flow is more likely to occur when the activity is a higher-than-average challenge and the individual has above-average skills.

Individuals with a low average level of skills and a high average level of challenges, or the converse, do not necessarily experience a match between skills and challenges when both are above their individual average.

Each of these seven flow conditions for any given task or activity that are part of achieving flow:

Knowing what to do

Knowing how to do it

Knowing how well one is doing

Knowing where to go if navigation is involved

High perceived challenges

High perceived skills

Freedom from distractions

Challenges to staying in flow include: states of apathy, boredom, and anxiety. 

The state of apathy is characterized by easy challenges and low skill level requirements, resulting in a general lack of interest in the activity. 

Boredom is a slightly different state that occurs when challenges are few, but one’s skill level exceeds those challenges causing one to seek higher challenges. 

A state of anxiety occurs when challenges are high enough to exceed perceived skill level, causing distress and uneasiness. 

These states in general prevent achieving the balance necessary for flow.

People with certain personality traits may be better able to achieve flow than the average person: autotelic.

These traits include curiosity, persistence, low egotism, and a high propensity to perform activities for intrinsic reasons. 

Being autotelic means having a self-contained activity, without the expectation of future benefit, but simply to be experienced.

People with an autotelic personality have a greater preference for high-action-opportunities , high-skills situations that stimulate them and encourage growth compared to those without an autotelic personality.

It is in such high-challenge, high-skills situations that people are most likely to experience flow.

The need for achievement is a personal characteristic that fosters flow experiences.

Autotelic Personality also has been shown in studies to correlate and show overlapping of flow in personal life and the Big Five Personality Traits of Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism,and Openness to Experience 

Group flow is attainable when the performance unit is a group, such as a team or musical group cooperates to agree on goals and patterns, social flow, commonly known as group cohesion, is much more likely to occur. 

Performers in a flow state have a heightened quality of performance as opposed to when they are not in a flow state.

A significant relationship exists  between the flow state of the pianist and the pianist’s heart rate, blood pressure, and major facial muscles: 

As the pianist entered the flow state, heart rate and blood pressure decreased, and the major facial muscles relaxed.

Drummers and bass guitarists often describe a state of flow when they are feeling the downbeat together as being in the pocket.

Being in the zone may also influence movement patterns as better integration of the conscious and subconscious reflex functions improves coordination. 

Conditions of flow, defined as a state in which challenges and skills are equally matched, play an extremely important role in the workplace.

Flow is associated with achievement,  and increased workplace satisfaction.

Frequent experiences of flow at work lead to higher productivity, innovation, and employee development.

Enhancing the time spent in flow makes our lives more happy and successful. 

Flow experiences lead to positive affect as well as to better performance.

Delinquent behavior is reduced in adolescents after two years of enhancing flow through activities.

Flow experience feelings:

Completely involved in what we are doing, being focused.

A sense of ecstasy

Great inner clarity

Knowing that the activity is doable

A sense of serenity 


Intrinsic motivation 

Flow is an innately positive experience; producing intense feelings of enjoyment, that should lead to positive affect and happiness in the long run. 

Flow situations permit the experience of personal development.

Flow experiences imply a growth principle, with working to master the activity at hand. 

To maintain a flow state, one must seek increasingly greater challenges, attempting new, difficult challenges stretches one’s skills. 

Emerging from such a flow experience results in personal growth and feelings of competence and efficacy.

By increasing time spent in flow, intrinsic motivation and self-directed learning are increased.

Flow is correlated  with high performance in the fields of artistic and scientific creativity, teaching, learning, and sports.

Flow is linked to persistence and achievement in activities.

 Flow helps to lower anxiety during various activities and raise self-esteem.

While flow experiences fosters better performance, yet, good performance makes flow experiences more likely. 

Enjoyable activities that produce flow have a potentially negative effect: they are capable of improving the quality of existence by creating order in the mind, but they can become addictive.

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