Flow & Ikigai

Ikigai and flow

When do you feel in flow?

Flow is often experienced while playing sports, music, or games, or in partaking in religious rituals. It is generally accepted as an optimal state of mind that is achieved when an individual is intensely involved in one of these activities.

What is often forgotten is that flow involves a balance between a challenge to be met and the skill level of the individual required to meet the challenge. This is how the term ‘flow’ was defined by psychologist and author Mihay Csikszentmihalyi, who is recognised for coining the word. The benefits of achieving a flow state include high levels of enjoyment, satisfaction, and a sense of fulfilment – all of which we could describe as ikigai-kan . 

In his book, The Little Book of Ikigai, Ken Mogi writes:

‘If you can achieve the psychological state of “flow,” as described by the Hungarian-born American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, you will get the most out of ikigai, and things such as daily chores will even become enjoyable. You won’t feel the need to have your work or efforts recognized, you won’t be looking for a reward of any sort. The idea of living in a continuous state of bliss, without searching for immediate gratification through external recognition, is suddenly within your reach.’

This relates to the idea of doing things with chanto. When you do even the smallest and most mundane task properly, paying attention to detail, you can achieve flow. This creates a sense of satisfaction that you feel compelled to pursue and maintain because it is so enjoyable and fulfilling. This is what we want – not just in our work and play, but in all areas of our life.