Stagnation to flow…

Most of us are still coming to terms with the changes that we are witnessing in our work & life post-pandemic. I had touched upon Post pandemic work & life in the article based on Patty McCord’s talk. This is another insightful talk that did strike a chord within, see these excerpts –

I wasn’t depressed. I still had hope. Wasn’t burned out, had energy. Wasn’t lonely, I was with my family. I just felt a little bit aimless and a little bit joyless. Eventually, I remembered there’s a name for that feeling: languishing.
In the early days of Covid, a lot of us were struggling with fear, grief and isolation. But as the pandemic dragged on with no end in sight, our acute anguish gave way to chronic languish. We were all living in “Groundhog Day.” It felt like the whole world was stagnating.

~ Adam Grant (American organizational psychologist)

I could relate to this, especially the first part – I’ve experienced it myself. And the second part explains the reason, the prolonged uncertainty, anxiety of the pandemic, frequent lockdowns have taken a toll on us, and many of us have this general sense of dreariness, or joylessness. Or as Grant puts it – “It might be the dominant emotion of our time”.

Do listen to this TED talk (~16 mins) by Adam Grant. It has some brilliant, funny illustrations as well.

Adm Grant talk’s about Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s Flow concept as an antidote to this boredom/joylessness – when you get so engrossed in an activity that you tend to lose sense of time & self. Moreover, it is joyous & energizing. It doesn’t (necessarily) have to be a ‘high challenge & high skill’ activity. It could be anything that offers mastery, mindfulness, and mattering(knowing that your work matters). It could be joy of creating something, or experiencing micro-flow in otherwise routine activities. For example, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman enjoyed his micro-flow in painting the office walls. Amongst the lesser mortals, I find my micro-flow in cooking.  🤷🏽‍♂️

The crux is to add that activity in your routine that you enjoy for its own sake, something that makes you feel energized, something that makes you lose track of time. The talk explains how Grant and his family (including kids) found flow in a simple activity to brighten their days of languishing.

And here is a wonderful note from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi himself to put flashes of joy in a mundane day.

Flow experiences provide the flashes of intense living
“Flow experiences provide the flashes of intense living….” (PC:

Featured Image:

The featured image of this article is by Peter H from Pixabay, and I’m using it here with gratitude.

One thought on “Stagnation to flow…

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I love the idea of micro flow a lot and use it in my life too often. Things like cooking, writing about my favorite topics brings me closer to my flow state.

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