In my younger days, as a fan of the famous crime writer Agatha Christie, I was fascinated how the nondescript sleuth Miss. Marple could solve mysteries while knitting. It felt so silly and impossible that anyone could solve a murder while focussing on the clicking of her needles. However, now researchers have proved that “The rhythmic, repetitive moments necessary to knit, sew or crochet induce the state of ‘flow’ wherein the implicit mind takes over, resulting in better communication between more parts of the brain resulting in clearer thinking wherein solutions to problems just come through.
The Flow State
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, outlines his theory that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow—a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. 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.
Finding Your Purpose/ Raison D’Etre/Ikigai
You need to find some activity that you enjoy which gives you a sense of challenge. But it should not be too tough to accomplish. If we have work that we truly love, we are lucky to have found our purpose. However many of us have jobs that just suck, that doesn’t make us feel alive. This gives rise to depression and unhappiness. We need an escape, to find an activity that really interests us, it doesn’t matter what. It could be painting, candle-making, quilting, cake-decorating, carpentry, knitting, gardening, playing a musical instrument. You need to be actively engaged in creating something that you find enjoyable. Life is short so do your best.
Being immersed in an activity that makes you focus totally and become absorbed shifts your brainwaves to the alpha-theta border area of around 8 Hz. This is recognized as bring in the zone or state of flow. In this state, one’s mind flits between the conscious and the subconscious. When you are in the flow state, your entire being is immersed in the activity and everything seems to be working together in complete harmony. In this state, the mind is calm, focused and in bliss, the feel-good chemicals, serotonin and dopamine course through our bodies. You feel fully alive and in the present, you are in the NOW. Studies have shown we’re often happiest when we’re lost in the moment. However, on the flip side, the more our mind wanders, the less happy we are.
Want to be happier? Stay in the moment: TED Talk by Matt Killingsworth
The experience of flow in daily life is essential to our state of well-being and happiness. To get into this state of heightened awareness, where you can zone on the solution to the problems you just need to do what you love, play your guitar, or paint or knit or make a table or write. Almost anything can be a flow experience, even cleaning your room or cupboard can bring it on. Once you are relaxed, you will find a solution to your problems – happiness is sure to follow.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly
The Creativity Cure: How to Build Happiness with Your Own Two Hands by Carrie and Alton Barron