The theory and practice of “flow” – ParkNews.biz Nov 2nd – 8th, 2021
“It is how we choose what we do, and how we approach it, that will determine whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life
Last month, on Oct 20th, 2021, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, passed at age 87, in Clermont, CA. Mike C as he was known, was a Hungarian-American psychologist. He was the Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. He is best known for naming a psychological concept of flow. Flow is a super focussed mental state that leads to productivity, creativity and over all to happiness. Something that lately, especially, tends to be a tad foreign. Perhaps it is as John mentions in his latest blog, Nov 8, 2021 – Focus, Can you do it for four minutes? – JVH, Parking Today the environment.
“SWPTA’s annual meeting was a fantastic event. There was something for everyone, and it was a great place to talk about parking. But I glanced over at the fellow sitting at the next table and he was playing a game on his phone. Granted he wasn’t a parking pro, he was the head of a county in a nearby state, and yes, he was there to hopefully make is myriad parking issues go away. But he wasn’t focused.
I don’t really blame him, I blame the environment he brought with him. When Cindy Campbell spoke, there wasn’t a person in the room that didn’t focus like a laser beam on her. She was articulate, she was engaging, she brought her topic right home to the people sitting in the room. She changed that environment and people listened.
Everywhere we go, we take our environment with us. We have our iPad, our smart phone, our laptop and they consume us hour by hour, day by day. It becomes impossible to focus on the task at hand.”
I appreciate what JVH says and yes, with amazing Cindy Campbell’s presentation, one couldn’t help but to be focussed. Because Cindy was most engaging, funny, and inquisitive. Yet, most often it isn’t a speaker’s fault that we simply don’t listen. We are the ones responsible for our focus and focus, is hard work. It is like reading a book – often it might start slowly, yet, if you only stick with it, it eventually the book swallows you in. You feel absolutely absorbed and can’t wait to read more. As Csikszentmihalyi says, you “are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter”. And that is ultimate bliss. Be it at work or our private life. Whatever we do, we must be fully present in it.
Deep listening is a perfect example. How many of us truly listen instead of immediately striving to respond before hearing anything but first few words? And as JVH says, many of us thinking that multitasking is the way to go. It is not. Multitasking often leads to mistakes and a half baked doing. The results become mediocre.
If you want to learn more about flow and to practice entering it, read Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow or at least this article: Why is it harder to focus at work and get things done these days? (We perform at our best in a focused state of concentration — called “flow” — but it takes hard work to get there, says the Financial Times’ Andrew Hill.)
Because this life and our work can and should be a work of art! Gearing up towards the new year, let’s not waste it. “The best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times—although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.
Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen. For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last block on a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Focus, flow and our January Green Issue of Parking Today – for the latter, the deadline for space is approaching fast. Please, contact Brian Bullen, firstname.lastname@example.org, to be in this huge issue.
Have a blessed week,
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