Flow: I love the idea of flow in all the various definitions of the word. As a design student, flow meant that a person’s circulation through a space made sense, created a specific and deliberate experience, had some impact on how they interacted with their surroundings. Once you are conscious of this tool it’s something that you will take notice of everywhere you go…keep your eyes open for it next time you’re out and about. It’s symbolic of being conscious of where you’re headed and recognizing when people try to force you to go in a certain direction.
But there’s another type of flow that I think we’ve all experienced. A Positivity Psychologist describes this kind of flow best when he says, “flow is completely focused motivation… In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui or depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task…” I’ve recently realized that this type of flow is a huge contributor towards my (and I believe many other people’s) feeling fulfilled. To me it is the epitome of living for the moment, appreciating the journey and not worrying too much about the destination; it is when you feel your most content and productive. For at least that moment, you can forget about anything outside that experience and just focus on accomplishing your goal, completing a project and doing what makes you happy.
I think it was after college officially ended, assignments were no more, piano lessons stopped and models were done being built that I realized flow was so important to me. I didn’t necessary love spending days on end in the architecture studio but I’m sure that that loss of focus and drive was directly related to my loss of sense of self.
So in my active pursuit of trying to ‘fulfill my purpose,’ ‘enjoy life to the fullest,’ whatever you want to call it I’ve decided to figure out what exactly these flow-inducing activities are for me now; I plan to engage in them often. For me it’s the opportunities to be creative like painting, crafting, designing and baking. But I’ve realized it’s also activities that are very cerebral such as organizing and playing classical music on the piano. I’m certain that it’s different for each person, especially when I see how enthralled my dad gets when he’s reading a book about ancient Byzantine civilizations or working on his family tree computer program; or how my mom loses her sense of time while needle pointing or working on Quicken.
I think it all comes down to finding out what makes you happy and doing it often.