I’ve been thinking about flow a lot lately. Maybe it comes with getting older. I like to be in the flow state more often these days.
According to Milhaly Csikszentmilhalyi, in his national bestseller flow, a joyful life is an individual creation one that cannot be copied from a recipe. I have always worked at creating a joyful life. My version of one to be sure and I want to instill in my students that they can create a joyful life as well (their version of one). I want to focus on their strengths so that they too can find what brings them flow.
“Psychology must be concerned with human strength as with weakness” says Seligman. I would say we definitely need to look at our young people’s strengths and help them discover their hidden strengths so that they can be more free to enter into states of flow. As Martin Seligman says we should be interested in building the best things in life as we are in repairing the worst. “We need to be concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling and with nurturing high talent as we are with healing pathology.” Below you can take a deeper look at what he has to say.
I find that too many people focus on the disease model of the past. Some describe students as their disorder instead of looking at all their strengths. I still hear words being said when describing students that don’t look at the whole person. Language matters and we need to take the lead when it comes to describing , healing and helping students.
I believe we need to find our own flow states so we can help students find theirs. I love what Csiksezentmihalyi says,
” contrary to what we usually believe, the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times – although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile” .
During flow you can’t feel anything , time stops. That is what happens to me when my mind is being stretched . That is the way I feel when I create. Creating for me is therapeutic. It is healing , it is magical. I love that my mind goes to this space and that is freeing.
I can achieve this through artistic endeavours ( a newfound passion in the last three years), by playing lacrosse and by doing what I love to do … helping. I often find joy in the process of everyday living , but through creating I have found the flow state like never before. Sometimes 15 hours feels like 5 minutes.
In chapter 5 of Martin Seligman’s Flourish he makes a poignant point . If you ask any of us what we want for our children it is not things like achievement, success and literacy at the top of the list. It is more important things like happiness, love, balance. More to do with the well-being of the child. Yes, we all want our young people to achieve, but we also want them to thrive and be well.That’s why School Counsellors are so important. We do what we love to do and help students to achieve while looking at the whole young person. We help teach students to be well.
We can also help students to find a flow state , to be grateful and to recognize that it is their beliefs about adversity , not the adversity itself that leads to their feelings of worthlessness etc.
So for today I say get your flow on … and go with the flow …