When it happens, everything falls away.The moment becomes effortless. You glance up at the clock–it’s hours later, and you haven’t eaten all day. Suddenly, reality rushes back. You, my friend, were just in a state of flow. You may have been painting, writing, playing a video game, or researching on the web, but you didn’t notice the time drift past you.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, a psychologist noted for his work on happiness and creativity, describes flow as completely focused motivation–”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.”
It feels more and more difficult to achieve this state between the phone beeping relentlessly and our compulsive need to check email, news, and facebook. When there’s no end to the possible distractions, getting lost in one intrinsically fulfilling activity is a wonderful feeling, when it happens.
While we can’t force flow, we can nudge it along by creating environments which encourage it. We can prime our minds for the state of flow by imagining the spaces we inhabit as physical manifestations of the state of our minds. Enter Wabi Sabi-a Japanese aesthetic which incorporates the principles of asymmetry, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuity of natural objects and processes.
Here are some Wabi-Sabi inspired spaces whose simplicity and understanding of holism will surely get that flow going.