How To Get Into The Flow State Of Mind, According To Yale:
We all want to do things that are fun on occasion.
We may even want to do something as crazy as live a meaningful life, or do a job that we love that pays us as we both live and create that meaningful life.
One of the big components of course is that job, and the type we all admire most is when people seem to be at their apex.
Whatever they do, if they are almost like the Olympic athletes of that job and completely at-one with it,
That sets off a chain-reaction in our minds we immediately see as meaningful.
And Yale researchers think they’ve just cracked the code…
The Short Answer:
- There are a few achievement states that really seem to make life worthwhile.
- Doing something that’s fun, rewarding, and meaningful for a career is one.
- Getting into the mental state of Flow when you’re doing anything, especially a job is another big one.
- I think we notice this instinctively when we see someone at the top of their game.
- Sometimes along the way to achievement, the Means can sometimes take over significance where the Ends should still have it.
- But Yale researchers think they can get your mind into Flow, even at a job, with a simple formula.
- That formula, I(M;E), basically means that if you get enough Feedback during the process it takes care of everything else.
- But the Flow state is not really that simple. The main subject author cites at least 4 requirements.
- Focus, Freedom (from judgment+criticism), Feedback, and Four % more difficult than your current assessed abilities.
- Feedback alone is unlikely to provide Immersion, Motivation, Meaning and the proper Environment.
- Malcolm Gladwell and Naval Ravikant have made some partially similar statements on Meaningful-Work, and Optimal Vocation for an individual.
- Malcolm says Meaningful Work has about 3 components.
- Naval says that the best vocation for one person should look like work to others, but feel like play to the individual.
Read on to find out the details…
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We All Want To Get Into The Flow, But How To Reconcile Means & Ends?:
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all get to that state?
To be completely in-the-moment and also at the right place and time, like some kind of rockstar playing the concert of their life.
Even if the activity is just something less grandiose, but really works for us.
But sometimes, as Kapil Gupta points out in his talks with Naval Ravikant, the means to an end sometimes takes over the whole focus,
When in the best case, they really should occupy the same space and time.
That mixed-up case could be like a job that isn’t doing it for you anymore, because the daily grind doesn’t match up to the eventual reward.
Well, Yale propellerheads think that “I(M;E)” will fix that for you.
What You Need Is Feedback. So Jimi Hendrix Was A Genius After All!:
So to quote their study,
“The consilience between means-ends fusion and empowerment led us to integrate these concepts into a computational theory of flow. The crux of our proposal is this: Flow is an increasing function of the mutual information between desired end states and means of attaining them. As the mutual information between a means and its end increases, so does the degree of flow. We call this the informational theory of flow. Next, we specify what we mean by “means” and “ends,” and how the mutual information between them is computed.”
-What that translates to is:
The authors believe that if you can just get enough feedback data points from what you’re doing on the way to achieving your goal,
It will make everything [else?] work.
They go on to state that Feedback will take care of at least motivation and immersion, too.
But The Guy Who Wrote The Book On It Says Its Not That Simple:
But here’s the problem. There’s an old saying in the sciences,
“In Math, 1+1=2. In Biology 1+1=5.”
So even though “Flow” may not be random, as they say. And it can also sit on top of conditions, as they say.
It’s not as simple as they think.
Enter the guy who wrote the book on “Flow” back in 2008, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
This video explains in a brief summary, the much deeper and more complex set of things that have to occur to make it happen.
-And that might even presuppose a situation in which it -could- even happen for the person concerned.
(I myself have yet to get into the flow-state while doing my taxes, for example.)
There Are At Least Four Pillars To Flow, Not Just One:
And as you’ll see, Flow is based on Four Pillars.
2) Freedom [from at-least inner & possibly outer criticism]
2a) Note: The writer’s paradigm of: Artist/Editor/Agent, Do only 1 at a time, is very similar to 2.
3) Feedback (those constant data-points the Yale guys mentioned)
3a) Note: this bit seems awfully like the way smartphones & games hack your dopamine system, btw.
4) Four Percent (more difficult than you think your current abilities can handle)
-That’s what really accomplishes Flow.
Feedback Is Great, But It Will Not Bring You The Zen Of Flow:
Feedback is great, but it’s not the end-all be-all. It’s not even a meaningful premise.
Feedback is just the dopamine-catnip that tells you the Means are getting you to the Ends.
But the Ends are what truly serve the premise.
Because if it’s not REALLY worth doing, then why do it?
No amount of feedback will change that. Only going after something that is meaningful in some way, however small, will set the stage for a worthwhile experience.
Malcolm Gladwell reminds us in the book, “Outliers” that meaningful work often has autonomy, complexity, and rewards that are proximal and proportional to effort.
On one last and more Flow-y than that, Naval Ravikant has said something like the best vocation for a person to do is something that looks like work to others, but feels like play to them.
Just a little mind-brain tangent this time. Leave us a note in the comments about what components of Flow you think are most functional and important to you!
References & Links:
• Source: Yale
• More Coverage: YT – “The 4 Fs of Flow”, by Productivity Game | Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – Amazon
• Source Study: NatureComm. – A computational theory of the subjective experience of flow
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