Steve Jobs once said “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” Have you ever felt completely and utterly immersed in something? Maybe you were glued to your pen as you crafted a script, or you were strumming a guitar to your favorite song, or perhaps you were developing a business proposal for a cause you felt could change the world. No matter what the act, you felt as if time stood still and you were doing what you were put on this earth to do. Psychologists have a scientific term for this state of being called Flow. As it turns out, there is a fundamental connection between our overall well-being and tapping into flow.
Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi describes flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” Not surprisingly, there are a number of benefits associated with flow. According to Steven Kotler, author of The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, “No one ever has a bad time in a flow state.” This comes as no surprise, when we are doing the things we love, it is hard to have a bad day. But with only 33% percent of Americans reporting happiness in 2017, this benefit is more impactful than ever. The second noteworthy benefit of flow is heightened focus. According to a McKinsey study, top executives reported being 5 times more productive during the state of flow. This is important to note with over half of Americans reporting frustration with their careers. So, those who experience flow often are happier and more efficient. But what if we told you they are healthier too?
According to research, those that feel they have a purpose in life have better mental health, less depression, more happiness, more satisfaction, greater personal growth, better self-acceptance, higher quality sleep, and live longer lives. This is really the key behind flow. It’s not just about doing a job well and enjoying it, it’s about feeling a sense of purpose in life. Flow is simply the side effect of doing what you love. So, if you haven’t found it yet, get out there and find it! As famously stated by Mark Twain “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”