Flow is the mental state in which you are fully immersed in an activity. Your focus is laser-like. You feel lost in the activity — fully absorbed in what you are doing. Time stands still. You are “in the zone.” When in flow, people describe deep concentration, a sense of being in control, and that the activity itself is intrinsically rewarding. Flow is deeply satisfying and brings a feeling of joy. Michelangelo likely felt flow when painting the Sistine Chapel. A quarterback probably feels flow when he is evading a sack or throwing a perfect spiral. I feel flow when I am teaching and writing. My son, Jacob (13), is in flow when he is doing drum performances. My daughter, Shayna (6), describes being in flow when we took a long bike ride through the mountains.
The tricky thing about flow is that you can’t force it. It seems to just happen. There are, however, certain conditions that researchers point to that are critical for flow. To learn more, open our PDF.