Occupational abundance lies in a what Positive Psychologists call “flow.” Proposed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD D, the concept of flow has been widely referenced in the field positive psychology where researchers measure things like states of happiness, values, strengths, virtues, and talents. For no apparent reason other than the fact that they thoroughly enjoyed what they were doing, Csikszentmihalyi began to study people who subjected themselves to strenuous physical, mental, emotional, and even financial stress to accomplish their goals.
Csikszentmihalyi coined the experience flow, a “synergy of different aspects of consciousness where you wish you could go forever because it feels like you are completely fulfilling something that you can do you well and see it happening and feel that nothing else matters.” Flow is a place where people have very clear goals and is what athletes commonly refer to as “the zone.” Moment-by-moment, people who flow know exactly what they have to do in an almost surreal, out-of-body experience where life-purpose and satisfaction are at the pinnacle. Outside of pitching a perfect game or bowling a 300, other tasks commonly experienced as flow are playing music, painting, writing, sewing, or any other sequence-oriented task where you can let your mind go and simply allow your innate intelligence to operate in full capacity. According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand.
The crux of it all is this: If you flow at work, you’ll love it. If you don’t then you’ll be content at best and hateful of it at worst. Occupational abundance is absolutely thriving at what you do for a living. In fact, you’re so good at it and it gives you such fulfillment that you’d even do it for free. Free? Yep! Ever wonder why people in certain careers never retire? Think about athletes who keep coming back for that one extra season or CEO’s of successful companies who stay on as “consultants” until they’re too old to work. It’s not for the money, they’re already wealthy! It’s because they flow at work and find such significant satisfaction in their work experience that they struggle letting it go.
When choosing a job offer is more dependent on your retirement and health insurance benefits instead of the activities you’ll be doing for 40+ hours a week, then you’re probably not going to be flowing at work. And, if you’re not flowing at work – the place you spend most of your waking hours for the majority of your life – your chances for true life-satisfaction and happiness are slim. Pray and seek the Lord on what it is that He has designed you for. Who better to seek direction on what it is that makes you flow than your Creator?
- Shadyac T (Producer), & Belic R (Director). (2001). Happy [Motion picture]. United States: Documentary.
- Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2009). Flow theory and research. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 195-206). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Health coach, life coach, author and speaker, Eric L. Zielinski is a Chiropractor who continues to seek out ways to influence the world toward achieving the Abundant Life. Eric’s work can be seen in a wide variety of venues including Christian, health/wellness, and academic peer-reviewed literature. Eric lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife Sabrina and three children.