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Thread: Flow

  1. #1
    Utisz's Avatar
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    Flow

    ... more specifically Psychological Flow.

    I think there was a thread on it back in the old place.

    From Wikipedia:

    Flow, also known as Zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an 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 complete absorption in what one does. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, this positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.

    According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the 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 although flow is also described (below) as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one's emotions.

    Flow has many of the same characteristics as (the positive aspects of) hyperfocus. However, hyperfocus is not always described in such universally glowing terms. For examples, some cases of spending "too much" time playing video games, or of getting side-tracked and pleasurably absorbed by one aspect of an assignment or task to the detriment of the assignment in general. In some cases, hyperfocus can "grab" a person, perhaps causing him or her to appear unfocused or to start several projects, but complete few.

    Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi identify the following six factors as encompassing an experience of flow.

    1. intense and focused concentration on the present moment
    2. merging of action and awareness
    3. a loss of reflective self-consciousness
    4. a sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
    5. a distortion of temporal experience, one's subjective experience of time is altered
    6. experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience
    Sounds like my kind of drug.

    Do you think this concept of Flow is the real deal? Or maybe you think it's vague-could-be-anything bullshitery?

    Have you experienced it? What activities invoke Flow in you?

  2. #2
    凸(ಠ_ರೃ )凸 stuck's Avatar
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    Yeah, I get this with music a lot. It's like playing a video game, if you get rid of all the breathless 20th century psychobabble.

  3. #3
    (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ Deckard's Avatar
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    Sure, flow is awesome. When I experience flow, it's with an activity where I've practiced the technical mechanics to the point of not having to consciously think about them, leaving my conscious mind free to be creative. It has to be a relatively complex task. It's not necessarily easy to get into flow for me, but when it happens it's sort of like a switch is thrown in your brain, and you're suddenly effortlessly performing at your potential.

    I've gotten into flow while playing music, taking math tests, programming, playing with flow toys, playing basketball/volleyball. I don't know of any shortcuts for getting into flow, other than taking psychedelics.

  4. #4
    凸(ಠ_ರೃ )凸 stuck's Avatar
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    The things I do like about the theory of flow are more of the "rules to achieving flow", some variation on

    1. being competent
    2. being challenged
    3. being focused
    4. focusing on the task rather than the result
    5. getting timely feedback

    You can even dodge the me-generation pop psych hubris of "it only matters that I'm getting my rox off" via expanding feedback to include other people.

  5. #5
    Tsundoku LordLatch's Avatar
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    I experience flow when coding but it's far easier to cultivate it by drawing when you shut down the left side of your brain. An alternate consciousness can be achieved in just a few minutes.
    That's my poop stirrin' stick- Don't touch it! You don't know which end is the handle..

  6. #6
    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    it's a state of almost pure perception, like a simultaneous orgasm of your senses and intuition-- the most perfect state to be in in the world. it's when you know you really know the system of whatever you're working on front to back.

    i get it when i'm making art in a medium i'm familiar with and not worrying about the results. it's more rare now cuz i usually have a client or somebody in mind when i do art (i'm trying to make it my "work"), but it still happens if i'm lucky. it generally happens if i'm doing something complex that i know really well. two, three, four hours passes by like nothing, and by the end you're pumped.

    i see it sorta being like connect the dots, when you already have the dots mapped out, and you're just zoning out and letting your body make the thing happen.
    chatting on discord

  7. #7
    <3 gator's Avatar
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    Legit. Usually happens to me in relation to either music or movement. Theremin puts me there easily, occasionally dance. Very occasionally drawing, especially techniques that are very time-consuming, like pointillism or cross-hatching. I think the key is allowing yourself the time and not allowing yourself to feel rushed into achieving a particular result.

  8. #8
    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    Flow refers to the state when you're holding all the relevant parts of a system in your short term memory so that you don't spend mental energy on learning or recalling things, but instead spend it all on completing the task.
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

  9. #9
    Pull the strings! Architect's Avatar
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    Fickle but real. I get it while programming and while performing music. Several elements have to line up for it to occur which is why I say its fickle. Happened to me a few minutes ago in fact while programming. I woke up to work on a problem, being the morning I didn't remember where I left off. Turned out it was something I had been working on for a few months, and I'm in the final stages of getting it to work. I had the knowledge, the pieces and everything I needed to put this together and just needed to do it (I left this part until morning so I'd be fresh to find a clever approach). So I lost track of time and happily constructed an algorithm that neatly and concisely solves the problem (it's a USB communication protocol in Android).

    However a few weeks ago it was the opposite. Android USB doesn't have a lot of ability to debug error conditions. I was doing something wrong but didn't have the tools necessary to debug it. So time dragged, I was was bored, tired of the whole problem, and a little desperate. Flow was missing because of the critical feedback component. I didn't have tools to give me necessary feedback to solve the problem, so I became discouraged.

    Anyhow a couple of folks above commented that it comes with music, but it's not clear whether they meant playing or listening to music. Strictly speaking flow doesn't happen while listening, that's probably just the musical esthetic experience which is a kind of transcendence. Specifically Flow is an engagement experience that happens when you're actively doing something, within your abilities but ideally on the edge of what you are capable of, with active feedback as to your performance.

    Musical transcendence is a stronger feeling than flow, and more "multidimensional" if that makes sense. Flow is kind of like being a puppy in a playpen, all warm and happy.

  10. #10
    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Architect View Post
    I get it while programming
    This.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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