“The happiest people spend much time in a state of flow – the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
When was the last time you were so into something you were doing that you forgot everything else around you? It just happened to me when I was talking with my colleagues and I realized it’s not just a random thing that happens to just me, but a phenomenon well studied by psychologists and it’s called the Flow State. The whole notion of it fascinated me and I started to do some research on it. I found out many different tips about how to achieve this state of Flow, but one specifically caught my eye: when children play, they get in the perfect Flow State. The same happens to adults but not only do we achieve the Flow State while playing, but can also stay in it and brainstorm more effectively. After learning this, we at Spacebase decided that we should conduct an experiment and try to get people to achieve the Flow State in everyday meetings. Therefore, we invented the inspirational Spacebase Boxes and decided to put them in our nicest Berlin meeting rooms.
What is the flow?
Back in 70’s, the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi began questioning expert level performers, like musicians, dancers, rock climbers and chess players, about the moments they felt really happy and concluded that being in the Flow State at these moments was the only thing they all had in common.
Csikszentmihalyi proved that the human mind can only take in 110 bits of information per second. It sounds like a lot, but understanding a speech takes about 60 bits per second and that’s why we cannot pay attention to two conversations at the same time. When experiencing the Flow State we are so focused on the activity that we lose awareness and consciousness of everything else, even bodily functions, like hunger or tiredness. Your mind is completely focused, but you are not negatively stressed.
In this graphic you can see how Csikszentmihalyi explains that stepping out of your comfort zone and setting your challenges and skills higher than average makes you avoid reaching the extremes of boredom, relaxation, or anxiety.
What does that look like in daily life?
Since I can’t always relate to expert level performers, I asked around our office to see when people experienced the Flow State last:
How can I get there easier?
The triggers to this state are manifold and achieving the Flow State in daily life is still a challenge researchers are trying to understand. Therefore, I have found some shortcuts to get there. One thing I found very interesting was that playing like a child can be a trigger to reach the Flow State.
Playing is a self-chosen activity in has no goal apart from enjoyment. It’s imaginative, non-literal and it involves being active and alert, but not in a stressful way. Most importantly, the mental state of play has been demonstrated as the ideal way of learning new skills and being creative. Therefore, we want to invite our customers to participate in our experiment, try to play more and bring more flow to meetings. From now on, on in our nicest venues in Berlin, you can find the two boxes.