Flow is the heightened focus and immersion in activities such
as art, play, work, or sport. Csikszentmihalyi (1990) describes
flow as the state in which people are so involved in an activity
that nothing else seems to matter.
Arousal is the area in which most people learn. From this
state, flow can be achieved by developing higher skills, as can
be seen in the above diagram. To enter flow from the control
state, you must increase the challenge. (Csikszentmihalyi, 2004)
An athlete can achieve flow by engaging in a challenging athletic
activity that is achievable, but presents a slight stretching
of the athlete's abilities. Athletes appear to be in a state
of flow when they achieve peak performance, however, the athlete
may be in a flow state and not necessarily experience peak performance.
Csikszentmihalyi (1991) identifies conditions of flow:
The average mind can process no more than 110 bits/second.
Experience of time, bodily sensations (ie hunger or fatigue),
other extraneous distractions, and even personal identity are
temporarily suspended from consciousness during periods of intense
concentration. Csikszentmihalyi (2004) explains this intense
focus of attention with the limited processing capacity of mind
is why people report these feelings of existence are temporarily
suspended during the state of flow.
Csikszentmihalyi M (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal
experience. New York, Harper & Row, pg 4.
Csikszentmihalyi M (1991). Talent and enjoyment: findings
from a longitudinal study. Keynote address at the annual meeting
of the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology,
Csikszentmihalyi M (1997). Finding Flow. HarperCollins
Publishers, Inc, New York, NY.
Csikszentmihalyi M (Feb 2004). Presentation at Ted Talks,