Finding ‘flow’ as an introvert {Quote of the Week}

Have you ever been so absorbed in an activity that you lost track of time? Maybe you were reading a good book or having an interesting conversation with a friend. Being in this state of effortless concentration and enjoyment is called “flow.” Often we find flow when we do our favorite hobbies, like gardening, hiking, or gaming. Flow happens when your goal or outcome is clear and you must fully use your skills to overcome a challenge that is just barely manageable. We might experience flow when we work or spend time with loved ones, but interestingly, research shows that flow eludes us when we do passive activities like watching TV.

Often, moments of flow become some of the best times of our lives. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of the book Finding Flow, writes, “Moments such as these provide flashes of intense living against the dull background of everyday life.”

How do introverts find flow? Susan Cain, author of the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, explains:

If you’re an introvert, find your flow by using your gifts. You have the power of persistence, the tenacity to solve complex problems, and the clear-sightedness to avoid pitfalls that trip others up. You enjoy relative freedom from the temptations of superficial prizes like money and status. Indeed, your biggest challenge may be to fully harness your strengths. You may be so busy trying to appear like a zestful, reward-sensitive extrovert that you undervalue your own talents, or feel underestimated by those around you. But when you’re focused on a project that you care about, you probably find that your energy is boundless.

So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multitasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way. It’s up to you to use that independence to good effect.

How do you experience flow in your life?

Are you an introvert? What’s your personality type? We recommend this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker.

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Jenn Granneman is the founder of IntrovertDear.com and the author of The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. She also cohosts The Introvert, Dear Podcast and blogs for Psychology Today. For most of her life, Jenn felt weird, different, and out of place because of her quiet ways. She writes about introversion because she doesn’t want other introverts to feel the way she did.