the psychology of optimal experience

How to perform better and have fun doing it

Whether in business or in sports, we all want to perform at our best and have fun doing it. For many of us however, optimal or peak experiences do not happen frequently enough. There are three things that impact on peak performance: our thoughts about the past, our thoughts about the future, and what we think about in the moment.

Chasing that state called “flow”

For a long time I have searched for a reason for our goal-driven nature that went beyond a simple evolutionary psychology explanation: our hard wired drive to perpetuate our gene pool, our need to satisfy basic needs (food, shelter, sex). Goal oriented humans would have had a better chance of survival. Without a goal oriented nature we would not hunt or gather. But in the developed world at least, those basic human needs are generally taken care of (at least basically). A simple evolutionary explanation does not suffice.

In his book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests that our prime goal has moved from basic survival to the desire for happiness. Yet we are no happier than our ancestors despite the trappings of the modern world. Happiness cannot be found in materialism. Happiness, according to Mihaly (and I tend to agree) is found in the state he calls flow. Much like Eckhard Tolie, flow is living in the “now” but is different in that Eckhard focuses on egolessness and Mihaly focuses on matching talent and challenge.

Much has been written on flow since Mihaly introduced the concept (although the fundamental idea is not new).Read More »Chasing that state called “flow”