Issue 11 of The Science of Creativity
Remember professor Barbara Fredrickson and her theory about broaden and build? Go back to yesterday's lesson if you need a refresher.
Dr. Fredrickson noticed that the broaden and build system is active when we are in a state of flow. You might have heard about flow before. In a nutshell, it could be described as "being in the zone" which happens when we are fully immersed in a task. Video games are very good at putting us in this state, as you might have noticed.
When we are in flow, we are fully involved in the task which sort of makes time fly. We are experiencing a sense of hyperfocus which often means that we lose your awareness of our surroundings and other bodily sensations. It's not uncommon for people who have experienced flow to be shocked when they realized they have been doing something for hours.
So, the big question really is: how do we put ourselves in this state?
There are a few conditions that need to be in place to make it easier to reach flow:
- Turn off all notifications and remove all other distractions (including coworkers, emails, etc.);
- Make sure you are working on a task that matches your ability. If it's too simple, you will get bored; if it's too hard, it will only frustrate you.
- Tasks that provide you with constant feedback, giving you a feeling of moving forward, help you get in the zone.
- You must have a clear goal. This is one of the reasons for video games being such a good flow facilitator.
Today's task consists of two parts. First, I want you to map out whenever you feel that you are in a state of:
- Frustration - indicates the task is too hard.
- Boredom - you're working on a task that's too simple.
- Flow - the task perfectly matched your skills.