Can experiencing flow make me happy?

Ronald Siegel
The good news about flow (the experience of being fully involved in an activity) and happiness is that you can increase the amount of flow experience in your life and reap the benefits, although it takes a certain amount of effort and comes more naturally to some people than others.

Flow experiences, researchers have found, occur when there is a balance between the challenge of an activity and the skill you have in performing it. For an adult, playing a child's card game that requires no real skill is not likely to be a flow experience, but playing the next level on a video game that you have partially mastered may be. When your skill is high but the challenge is low, boredom is the likely result.

Set the challenge too high, though, by undertaking something that is way beyond your skill, and you're out of the flow again. Flow is more likely to happen when you're playing a well-matched opponent, practicing a piano piece just a bit harder than the last one, or driving in unfamiliar terrain in a car you feel confident controlling.

Enhancing your ability to experience flow in multiple domains can lead to greater happiness. You can't force flow, but you can invite it to occur more often, even in areas of life where it might seem unlikely.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.