Hello and welcome to the Creative Woman Café, a place where your creativity flows.
This painting inspired me to revisit the state of consciousness called Flow because I was disappointed that I did not feel the same enjoyment and great energy that I experienced while painting the first orchid painting.
Why? What makes the difference in how we feel? This question led me back to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book, Flow, the psychology of optimal experience. Mihaly popularized the concept of “flow” in 1990 when his book became a national bestseller.
What Mihaly found is that it’s not what you do, but how you do it. The quality of flow is an “almost automatic, effortless, yet highly focused state of consciousness.” This state is characterized by “deep enjoyment, creativity and a total involvement with life.” People who are wholeheartedly performing an activity for intrinsic purposes are most likely to enter the flow state. Painting and other artistic mediums are perfect flow activities. So the question is how do you get into flow when you are not?
I found that I could not will myself to get into flow. So what if anything can you do to facilitate it? I found three conditions that are required to enter the flow state that I hadn’t met the last time I painted:
1. Clear set of goalsthat contribute direction and structure.
Although I had the goal to paint the flower transparent, I didn’t break it down beyond just using transparent colors. So I have set more specific goals for myself that will encourage flow.
2. Balance between the perceived challenges and your own perceived skills.
I was intimidated by having to use just transparent paints¬–felt like watercolor where any “mistakes’ can’t be covered up. I felt pressure not to make mistakes, so I lost the spontaneity that I had with the last painting.
3. Becoming immersed in the activity.
Perhaps because I lacked the above two conditions, I was not able to shut out the distractions in the room or focus on my painting with enough engagement to get into the flow state and therefore the experience was disappointing. This time I will pull my energy in and focus it on the painting.
Try incorporating these 3 conditions into your activities and see if you can choose to enter flow and greatly improve the enjoyment of your experiences.
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