‘Go with the flow!’
Despite a lack of interest in psychology when I came across a research paper entitled ‘Flow and Positive Psychology’, I couldn’t stop reading, I don’t expect you to read it yourselves so I will summarize the ideas in this blog post. The heart of the idea was that people are at their happiest when they are completely absorbed in the activity they are working on and immediately I thought of kitesurfing. Therefore, could this research explain where that feeling of ecstasy comes from in kitesurfing?
An American psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihaly is credited with as being the first to acknowledge this concept of Positive Psychology. Mr ‘M’ noticed that people are the happiest when they are fully involved the present moment, after interviewing countless people and he often found them comparing the mental state to flowing water and thereby coined the expression “Go with the flow”.
The mental state in which you are completely absorbed in your occupation is called ‘flow’. Flow brings with it a feeling of happiness, satisfaction and relaxation. All other thoughts and feelings temporarily disappear into the background. There is a flow if at least some of the characteristics below are present:
- A clear goal
- Extreme concentration
- Loss of self-awareness
- Loss of time
- Direct feedback
- The activity is rewarding
- Sense of personal control
- Feeling of conquerable challenge
Kitesurfing and Flow
Flow arises from an activity that suits your skills, extreme but is not too difficult. The focus needed for this gives you the opportunity to become one with what you do and forget the very feeling of time. People who are in a flow can often forget that they are hungry or thirsty because the activity in itself is so rewarding. Very recognizable for kite surfers! Neuropsychologists even can see the flow in the human mind. The brain stimulates an increase of norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, anandamide and serotonin, together the chemicals are responsible for focus and happiness. Exactly that rush that makes people addicted to their hobby.
Kitesurfing is a sport that demands a lot from you; focus, concentration, coordination and endurance. You actively play with the elements of nature and they playback. There is always something new to learn, from your first meters to the first jumps and tricks. Have you ever been so absorbed by your kitesession that everything around you disappears and you are purely in the moment? Then there is a big chance that you have experienced the flow! This is the reason why we go to the beach by wind and wind, while others prefer to stay indoors because want to experience that flow again and again.
The reason that kitesurfing is so addictive!
Of course, not every kitesurfing session ensures a ‘flow’. For a flow, something extra is needed and it is impossible to force it. Many sessions are nice but not special or can occasionally even be a little disappointing, such as when it’s gusty wind, too busy on the spot or too much current, we’ve all had it. Though if anything those slightly ‘off’ days make finding the flow even better!
Just remember you cannot force the flow, it is a state that arises spontaneously when everything seems to coincide just right; your physical condition is good, you have the right vibe to tackle, a trick that you have been training for months then suddenly a magical moment in which everything succeeds and you can not do anything wrong,
You are in the Flow!
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