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The Phenomenology of Flow (HAPPINESS and FLOW series #3)

NOTE – this one is a bit long….


The Phenomenology of Enjoyment, or FLOW

This is what we went over last time….

The Phenomenology of Enjoyment, or FLOW:


  • Must we have a chance of being completed (appropriate skill level).


  • Must be able to concentrate.


  • Task must have clear goals


  • Must provide immediate feedback.


  • “One acts with a deep but effortless involvement that removes from awareness the worries and frustrations of everyday life. “


  • There is an increased sense of control over one’s life.


  • Concern for the self disappears, yet paradoxically the sense of self emerges stronger.


  • Sense of time is altered.


This Image Represents How To Maintain A ‘Flow’ State Of Mind:


Let’s clarify each of the 8 points of the phenomenology of Flow, with help from our visual!


ONE – “Appropriate Skill Level”

  • The action you chose must have a spectrum of skill level opportunities
  • You must begin at a level specific to your own skill set.

TWO – “Concentration”

  • Learning disabilities and attention disorders inhibit the chances of Flow.
  • External distractors should be minimized (at first).
  • Internal distractors must be dealt with beforehand, or will melt away with the onset of Flow

THREE – “Purpose”

  • Goals must be set, clear goals are better but some is better than none.
  • Arbitrary goals are legitimate when enjoying leisure – wok and personal goals should be well thought out.

FOUR – “(Bio)feedback”

  • The action you chose needs a medium for feedback,
  • Immediate feedback is best, the longer it takes for feedback the lower the chances of Flow.


This is when it gets a bit harder to track…


FIVE – “Lose Yourself”

  • points One – Four: open up the possibility to loose oneself in the moment
  • And also allows one to cultivate a growing sense of ….

SIX – “Mastery”

  • Growing your sense of control over potentially dangerous sources improves your quality of life by reducing stress.

SEVEN – “Losing yourself, Improves yourself”

  • This process concerns (Five) losing oneself in the moment so intensely that it seems like you ‘are the ball’ so to speak – you become one with the action you’ve chosen –
  • This process also improves our skill level, as well as our ability to concentrate and appreciate life; making you an ever more Extraordinary person!

EIGHT – “Time Fly’s When Having Fun”

  • As a side effect, TIME itself is altered in one way or another – from your ‘Flow’ point of view.



Explanation of the Visual

If ‘A’ is bored and wishes to be in flow again, all ‘A’ has to do is to increase the challenge:

Set a new, more difficult goal that match your / ‘A’s skill level – and ‘A’ is back in flow.


If A is anxious, flow can be achieved again by practicing hard to increase your / ‘A’s skills.

Technically you can reduce the challenge to return to flow – but such backward action would not contribute to becoming a more extraordinary person!


Thoughts on the ‘Flow’ state of mind


The Flow experience describes a task at hand as seemingly effortless, whose justifications is itself.

Flow itself is not bound by any morals – it is just a state of being, a mental state – but the activity you chose may very well be looked down upon (so choose wisely!).

“Water can be both good and bad, useful and dangerous. To the danger, however, a remedy has been found: learning to swim.”

– Democritus


The goal, then should be to enjoy daily life as much as possible, without diminishing the enjoyment of others (as much as possible).


Activities that produce flow often occur in situations in which the ‘safety nets’ of society and culture have been removed. – like courting disaster and surviving.

  • With this comes a growing sense of control over dangerous and chaotic forces. i.e. a sense of Mastery.

Flow activities fully take over consciousness, distorting our sense of time and completely distracting us from daily life – no irrelevant thoughts.

  • This sense of control over entropy can be addictive, and only becomes a problem if these activities are no longer done with conscious choice and interfere with the enjoyment of other activities.

To speed up your path on becoming an extraordinary person and becoming good at a chosen activity is to actually chose an activity that will provide you with lots of opportunities to practice your skill.


Flow is an Autotelic Experiences:

Autotelic translated literally from Greek means ‘SelfGoal’.

It refers to a self-contained activity that is done for its own sake.

When focusing on consequences of actions instead of focusing on them for their own sake, it is called an Exotelic Activity

  • Shifts form autotelic to exotelic experiences occur due to shift in perception and external influences
    • For Example; some children when forced into a sport or activity, may find themselves hating that activity later in life.

Autotelic experiences reinforce our sense of self and our sense of control.

Exotelic experiences dissolve our sense of self in the service of external goals.

The most common Autotelic activities are games….(learn how to get the most out of games, next week – stay tuned – )

Stay informed, stay strong and stay tuned!


Martin Colangelo : “The Better Movement Specialist”

– Blog Author

Owner / Instructor @

*contact me for a free consultation