Flow and Meaning

I recently came across a procedure for achieving a flow state:

  1. One activity at a time.
  2. The activity is meaningful to you.
  3. You work at the edge of your abilities.

I can’t recall the source of this. So, dear reader, please send me something I can cite if you have encountered this 3-step procedure elsewhere.

In this post, I relate the above procedure to my recent post on mean-ing.

Embracing step 1, step 2 follows - you can only do one thing at a time, so naturally you want to avoid the unmeaningful.

On step 2: what does “meaningful”…mean? The activity is rich with mean-ing, that is, you can see a central tendency for the thing, but there is observable variation, so frequent mean-ing is necessary. It is rewarding and satisfying to identify the possibility of and the emerging value of a central tendency as you gather and characterize observations.

On step 3: gather observations that you don’t anticipate will be too different (“mean-ing”-wise), so that while you may perturb the central tendency, it likely won’t change drastically after any given iteration of the activity. If it does change drastically, you likely will experience worry and anxiety. You will lose confidence in the mean-ing you’re doing / building up – you will ask yourself, “Is there actually a central tendency at all here?” Bottom line: you will want to take a step back; you will exit flow.