In the Flow

So what do you do when, after the initial flush of excitement over a new endeavor–whether it be learning a foreign language or mastering quantum physics–the fizz fizzles? How do you keep yourself motivated to follow through and achieve your goal?

I have a bit of advice for you, from my favorite positive psychologist and happiness tutor, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. You see, he’s got a theory that people are happiest when when they’re completely absorbed by an activity. In the flow. And the secret to being in the flow is to strike a balance between challenge and skill. If a task is too hard, you’ll get frustrated; if it’s too easy, you’ll get bored.

It takes some trial and error, but you can find your way into that flow. If you tend to take on too much and get overwhelmed, take a slower and gentler approach starting today. If you aren’t making much progress, amp it up. Practice creating a balance between honing your skills and taking on new but manageable challenges, and you’ll find yourself flowing toward mastery of your goals.

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