The Ultimate Flow State Guide:
Everything you need to know about Flow State

Part I: An Introduction to Flow
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Matt Swartz
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Chief Flow Officer
April 25th, 2022

Welcome to the Part I of the Ultimate Guide to Flow State:  Introducing Flow State: What is it exactly?

When people ask about the most important factor in improving their lives and building sustainable wellbeing, my answer is almost always “Being and Living in Flow”. Flow is the state of mind where we feel our best and perform our best – the optimal state of consciousness. If this is the case, you’d think that everyone would know a lot more about Flow and how to get there, but most people don’t. 

That’s why our mission at Recess is to make Flow State accessible to as many people as possible and help everyone to optimize their life for Flow State. To do that, let’s first understand more about what Flow State is, what the research tells us about Flow. Finally we will share Recess's model of flow and share our map for finding Flow State more easily in our everyday lives. See Recess's mind tech app for unlocking flow state here.

What is Flow State?

Most people know Flow State from the popular concept of being “In the Zone”. It occurs when we are totally focused on a task, performance is coming without effort, and one moment flows seamlessly into the next. In Harry Potter, Harry takes a potion called “Felix Felicis”, liquid luck, which allows him to just “go with the flow”, and every move he makes, even accidently, leads to positive outcomes. While this is from a fantasy novel, this state is not made up at all: this is exactly what people report being In Flow is like. 

The basis of our modern knowledge on Flow comes from the “Godfather of Flow”, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He is one of the foremost experts in the field of Positive Psychology, which studies individual and group wellbeing and how to create a fulfilling and meaningful life. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi, and other experts who have built upon his work, have isolated the key components of Flow, and studied these components in numerous research, including from his books “Finding Flow”, “Good Business”, “Creativity”, and “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience”. We will discuss these components in a later section in more detail. 

The richest body of knowledge on Flow comes from the study of High Performers and Peak Performance. Most of this research has been done with high performing athletes and artists, as well as in business. The best athletes report their best result come from this state of Flow, and research shows that this is the state where most records are broken. Artists, writers, and musicians report how essential Flow State is for enhancing their creativity and output – the most prolific creators can attain and sustain Flow with ease, and writer’s block becomes a thing of the past. 

In business, Peak Performance and Leadership studies show that individuals who attain Flow State consistently and sustainably are 5 times more effective, according to a widely quoted study from McKinsey. This means that Peak Performers in Flow can accomplish in one day what the average person takes one week to complete. Imagine spending two days in Flow, and being 1000% more productive, and what that would do for yourself or your business. According to Fast Company, “Major companies, including Microsoft, Ericsson, Patagonia, and Toyota have realized that being able to control and harness this feeling of Flow is the holy grail for any manager.”

Flow is not new...

Finally, it’s important to note that Flow is not new: has been a part of numerous philosophies and spiritualities in many diverse cultures for thousands of years, including Hinduism (Raja Yoga), Taoism, and even Judeo-Christian traditions. This speaks to the universal and timeless importance of Flow State – we have been finding and harnessing Flow for thousands of years.

Flow, ultimately, is the point where science & research meet personal growth & spirituality, pointing the way towards human fulfillment, self-actualization, and benefits for humankind. 

Don't forget to check out the rest of The Ultimate Guide to Flow State


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  1. Csikszentmihalyi, M. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: Harper Collins; 1996. 
  1. Csikszentmihalyi M. Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life. New York: Basic Books; 1997.
  1. Csikszentmihalyi, M. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper Perennial; 1990. 
  1. Csíkszentmihályi, M. Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning. New York: Penguin Books, 2003. 
  1. Csikszentmihalyi, M. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness. TED, 2008.
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  1. Kotler, S.  “Is The Secret To Ultimate Human Performance The F-Word?” Forbes, 2014.
  2. Šimleša M, Guegan J, Blanchard E, Tarpin-Bernard F, Buisine S. The flow engine framework: A cognitive model of optimal human experience. Eur J Psychol. 2018;14(1):232-253. doi:10.5964/ejop.v14i1.1370

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