Heart rate mildly elevated, the sweat glands open, eyes fixated on the task at hand. Time feels slow – or even frozen – but also at once flies by between each glance of the watch. It’s an experience termed flow, which has been famously described by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi in a book by its namesake.
Flow has many components, but the most easily understood set include challenge and feedback – engaging in a task just sufficiently difficult to the level of ability and knowing immediately whether you did the right thing.
Like Fight Club, the experience was in everyone’s face; Csikszentmihalyi just made it visible. The experience was on everyone’s tongue, and he just gave it a name. In fact, it’s an experience so addictive (yes, flow experience and cocaine both use the dopamine pathway) that we sometimes spend the entire first half of our lives seeking that experience which we call a career. Continue reading