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4 Examples of Flow Theory

Flow is a mental state whereby an individual is completely absorbed in an activity. The following are the basic characteristics of flow.


Flow is a state of concentration on the moment whereby an individual releases the common habits of thinking about the past and future.
A photographer intensely observing a rare bird
Absorption in a book
Concentrating on a film
Focusing on work
Immersion in a conversation


The merger of thought and action such that an individual devotes their full attention to a task.
A stock trader who fills an order with accuracy and precision
A writer who works without distraction such that they achieve high productivity
An astronaut who overcomes a problem on a spacewalk with a systematic set of troubleshooting steps
An athlete whose mind is clear of distraction
High performance in a video game
Reading comprehension

Narrow Perception

In a state of flow an individual may partially cease to perceive time, their surrounds and their needs.
Forgetting to have lunch
The ability to work in a loud environment without noticing
The feeling that time passes quickly
The perception that pain and sickness are diminished while absorbed in a task

Intrinsic Reward

Flow is typically an enjoyable state of mind that feels intrinsically rewarding.
Joy in a hobby
Self-expression of an artist
Self-fulfillment brought on by productivity
Stimulation of a good book or film
Overview: Flow Theory
The theory that people can become fully engaged in an activity such that they are unusually mindful of the moment.
Attributed To
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
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Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, Sami Abuhamdeh, and Jeanne Nakamura. "Flow." (1990).