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Daisy Swan & Associates - October 2010 Newsletter

How’s your experience with FLOW these days?

“Flow” being the term used to describe that feeling we have when we’re so focused on what we’re doing, that we don’t notice where we are; our attention is so attuned to what we’re doing that we sort of zone out on the rest of the world, and focus completely on whatever we’re engaged in. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, details this concept in his book “FLOW: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness”, explaining that this experience is achieved when our experience of challenge meets with our level of knowledge. Alternatively, if we are too challenged for our level of knowledge, we’ll experience anxiety in doing whatever the task at hand might be. And if the challenge level is too low, we’ll experience boredom.

I was in a class of Chzichzmihaly’s when I was in grad school at University of Chicago, shortly after his book originally came out (the book has since been reprinted several times), and we discussed at length the experiences of flow in play and work . We discussed the challenge of how one continues to find flow after certain changes occur, which forces us to find new ways to achieve flow. For example, someone who had enjoyed mountain climbing but has given it up because of an injury…how does that person find flow in something less physically challenging? 

So again, had any Flow lately?

I bring this up right now because I’ve realized that many of my clients, and I, too, have been so scattered with concerns about the job market and the economy, or work, or whatever, that they’ve lost touch with the activities that really bring them to full-fledged focus and the pleasure of that focus.

When I took some time last weekend to attend a class on artistic traditional Eastern Calligraphy, taught by my old friend Barbara Bash, artist and illustrator extraordinaire, I enjoyed that sense of flow as if I were feeling it for the first time. We focused on our movements, our breathing, and being there. The brush strokes we created showed us where every distracting thought took us from our brush and paper. Without judgment, we practiced again and again throughout the day, laughing and learning and quietly engaging individually and as a group. After this enriched day I felt so re-invigorated and clear; as if my energy tank had been completely refueled. Why? I found my flow. 

So many of us are supporting our kids’ flow experiences of sports or social activities, or running our errands or trying to figure out how to manage this or that. Life sometimes gets in the way of FLOW. So, I’d like to offer a challenge: First, remember what has brought you that experience of flow. Then, do that activity at least three times each week, for three weeks. Sound impossible? Then maybe it’s time to explore more ways to find your flow activities. 

I’d love to know how this changes you. What becomes more available to you with this kind of enrichment? New ideas, calm, satisfaction, new conversations? Let me know! 
For those of you ready to put your flow activities to good use in a new venture of your own, we have a new program to help get you organized and harness your interests to create your own business. Visit our web site to read about this new program, as well as our always popular Job Search Support & Likeminding Groups.

As always, I’ve been busy reading for knowledge and inspiration. Aside from Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s, “FLOW: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness”, mentioned above, some of my favorite reads are my friend, Barbara Bash’s, “True Nature”; Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun”; Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains”; and, Virginia Woolf’s classic, “Mrs. Dalloway”.

And in other news, I’m pleased to announce that in November [exact air-date TBA], you’ll be able to watch me as I coach one of the people featured on E! Entertainment Television’s new series, "What's Eating You", which premieres October 13 at 10:00 PM, ET/PT.

You can also find a wealth of resources on my site, from other suggested reads, links to helpful sites, a Q&A with me, newsletter archives, and more. And for those of you who are in the process of updating your résumé, you can sign up to receive a FREE résumé template from Daisy Swan & Associates; the signup box is located right on our home page. And please feel free to tell your friends and colleagues about our FREE résumé template.

With love,

daisy swan