“The best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen.” - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
In his bestselling book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied the lives and experiences of people following World War II—and made a key finding about happiness—one that can be applied to our lives today. He found that the people that “made it” through the mental and emotional turmoil were those that found a way to get in a state of flow, or as some would say, “in the zone.”
The people in this “happier” group were able to achieve this state of consciousness called flow or “optimal experience” by doing an activity they enjoyed. This “active relaxation” state they achieved often felt effortless or Zen-like, and it enabled them to become so engrossed in their activity that they often lost track of time.
You’ve probably felt this before, and if you have, you’re one step closer to finding more happiness and improving your overall quality of life. However, while being in a state of flow can feel good, it’s being able to recognize and promote the activity that brings you there that’s also important. That way, you’re set up for success—success that doesn’t come by accident.
So what does this have to do with everyday life? With moving and home organizing? With the life of a professional organizer? I’ll get into that in a bit. For now, I’ll just say that flow is at the foundation of what I do — using functional systems to help my clients achieve their own state of flow.
Ten years ago, I was going through a tough time, both personally and physically. Around this time, I was also amassing quite a collection of art supplies. Granted, I don’t consider myself an artist, though I do enjoy various arts and crafts projects. Despite being exhausted at the end of the day, I found myself staying up late, sorting and categorizing art supplies and relishing this down time alone. I asked myself: Why was I doing this?
After some reflection, I realized that externally, my body was organizing but internally, my mind was organizing itself too — it was an escape from physical pain and negative thoughts that weighed on me. It was through this activity —sorting art supplies — that I found my happy place, which was organizing. Today, I organize for myself and others.
Whether it’s sorting art supplies, making art, music, gardening, cooking, you name it — when you are able to lose your thoughts in a flow, something amazingly beneficial happens in the brain. Just remember: it should be a mentally active activity, not passive (like watching TV, for example).
“Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen.”
The author was a firm believer in learning to control this positive state of flow, not just leaving it up to chance — and I couldn’t agree more.
As a home organizer with this foundational philosophy, I want to help my clients achieve this “optimal experience” or flow too. It’s part of a shift in mindset that I lead my clients through, which is setting up their homes for success.
This can mean setting up an art studio or music room, or creating a crafting area or setting up a closet, Konmarie style. It can be help unpacking after a move, or, ensuring that the kids have a clearly defined place to drop their shoes and bags after school.
It’s all about creating an environment that’s supportive. For some, this will mean being able to get ready in the morning without having to think or make too many decisions. For others, it’s a room or home makeover that promotes getting right into that flow-inducing activity or hobby, without interruptions or distractions.
And if you’re wondering, yes, I’m still collecting and organizing art supplies! But what’s different is that now I’m also a professional organizer helping clients throughout Denver with their own homes. As an organizing consultant, I love that setting up a space in a mindful way can help my clients achieve true happiness and improve the overall quality of their lives.
Want some help setting up your space for success? Be sure to check out our unpacking and organizing services to learn more.
Originally posted SEPTEMBER 27, 2021