Getting in the 'Flow'

"How do adults recapture that feeling of joy that children get from play?"

This is what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wanted to know. He is a Croation-born professor of American psychology at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA and has spent years studying the state of being that he calls "flow."

Great Cascade at NY Botanical Garden

Flow is what we feel when we are totally absorbed in an activity for its own sake. This does not refer to a game where you win or lose or to watching a game. "You don't get much out of the passive consumption of pleasure," Csikszentmihalyi* says, "compared to enjoyment which is much more active and creative and self-directive."

'Parade Tulips - great for cutting
Gardening and design is a great example of an actvity that is creative, self directed and gets you into the flow. You lose yourself when outdoors, planting, deadheading, weeding, edging watering or even raking the gravel (!?)...well, maybe you don't actually rake gravel but you get the idea.

a rock outcrop enhanced by Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

Flow is what I call 'stop time'...sometimes time stops when you are absorbed in an activity or in experiencing a special place. Intuitive thought and insight come to you when you are in such a state.

So get in the flow and spend some time outdoors today....

Ashintully Gardens - Tyringham Massachusetts - go visit!

* Csikszentmihalyi is the author of 'Flow' (Harper Collins 1990) and 'Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention' (Harper Collins 1996), and 'Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet' (Basic Books 2001).


  1. Boy oh boy. That first photo reminds me of when I was young laying in some thick centipede grass , not a care in the world if bugs crawled in my hair or anything. Looking up at clouds . Trying to stay in the flow of life here, great post ! Thanks , Gina

  2. What a wonderful quote - "you don't get much out of the passive consumption of pleasure"!

  3. I totally know what you mean - when I'm in the garden time doesn't exist!

  4. My feeling of "flow" while gardening is evidenced by the way I seem to be able to just move from task to task seamlessly--stopping to pull a weed, deadhead some flowers, decide to stake an eggplant, inspect for woodchuck depradations and so on. Houswork never seems to flow quite that way.

  5. so true - housework is definitely 'start and stop'...not flow...mostly 'stop'...


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