Updated: Nov 4, 2019
Are you ready to upgrade for more optimal experience? Not your phone or computer—you.
Nearly 30 years ago, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi—Mike—published the classic Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Today, “flow” is part of our cultural consciousness, and most people know that being in flow—“in the zone”—feels good. Mike's "Flow Channel" graphic has been reinterpreted a few times over the years, but each version reflects a fundamental principle at the core of flow theory: When something tips the balance and we perceive our challenges to be too high for the skills we have, we land in the anxiety zone. When our challenges are too low or too repetitive, or we have too little say in choosing them, we can find ourselves idling along in a state of boredom or apathy.
Here's a principle of flow theory that has received far less attention, but is more important than ever in an age of distraction and disconnection from authentic experience. The more time we spend out of flow, the less we develop our ability to control our attention and ourselves, master new skills, find opportunities to enjoy our lives, and prepare for the 21st-century's complexity and constant change.
Flow helps us pull ourselves together to build on our capacity to—all at once—be good, feel good, and do good.
This version of the Flow Channel graphic was created by a college student, Chavi Parks, who came to understand what flow is—and then who he was and what he was capable of becoming—when he experienced two different high schools, one all about compliance and control, the other about embracing challenge, taking initiative, and building community. You can read more about Chavi and his interpretation of the Flow Channel in his upcoming blog post.
Over the last 50 years, Mike’s most famous book has been translated into 24 languages and inspired cascades of additional research and application. We now know how much flow matters in our individual lives, our systems, and our culture—far more than we could have imagined back in the 1990’s. We are launching The Flow Channel because we believe we can’t afford to waste what flow research can teach us.
Through blog posts, podcasts, and online meetups focused on expertise and authentic example, you'll see how flow works not just as a way to describe individual peak performance. It is a goal-driven system for action—a blueprint for building families, schools, organizations, and communities that nourish human potential rather than wasting it.
The Flow Channel, then, is no longer just the title of Mike’s famous graphic. We have been working with our friend and mentor to create a vibrant online community for people interested in learning how to optimize their, time, attention, and inner resources to improve quality of life for themselves or others. This is the place to find inspiration, ask questions, exchange ideas, connect with Mike, maybe make some new friends.
Click here or at the top or bottom of any page to get your FlowAlerts so you never miss a new blog post or podcast.
What do you want your optimal experience mission to be? Let's get started and figure it out.