I have being kiting and surfing for many years. I jumped from an airplane with parachute. I love jumping from waterfalls and rock climbing too. All those are extreme experiences that I enjoyed a lot.
Contrary to what some people may think, I don’t like to put myself in dangerous situations and I hate to hurt myself. I am not an adrenaline seeker either. And most of my friends that are involved in those sports are more or less like me. Then, why we do them? A few years ago I found on the internet a concept created by professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and use in positive psychology: “Flow” and when I studied, I realized that this is exactly what I look for when I kite-surf or surf.
According to Myhali, Flow is:
“an state of 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. To achieve a flow state, a balance must be struck between the challenge of the task and the skill of the performer. If the task is too easy or too difficult, flow cannot occur. Both skill level and challenge level must be matched and high; if skill and challenge are low and matched, then apathy results.
The flow state also implies a kind of focused attention, and indeed, it has been noted that mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and martial arts seem to improve a person’s capacity for flow. Among other benefits, all of these activities train and improve attention”
Not only by sports is possible to find the flow, actually it was a phenomenon that was studied first in artists. It’s being said that when Michelangelo paint the Sixtine Chapel, he didn’t eat or sleep much to the point that he vanish often and when he came back, he continue painting. For him there was no hunger, there was no sleep, he was in such mental state where the challenge was as great as his skills. When this happens, when you find a challenge according to your skills you feel the flow and your feel happy. In that moment you don’t think about it because you don’t think about anything but going with the flow.
You can find the flow in your work, when you read, when you write... If you don’t have something like this in your life, go out, look for a challenge and do it, because you don’t know the amazing feeling you are missing out.