I watched a segment on television recently on The Project which was looking at the very topical challenge of Work/Life Balance. There were some interesting comments made and it certainly seemed that many people knew they spent perhaps excessive hours working, but didn’t really seem to worry about it!
What wasn’t mentioned was the fact that work is no longer the drudge that it perhaps might have been in the past when people performed services for a wage and came alive when they clocked off.
To explain why work is often more appealing than it used to be, we need to look at the concept of “Flow” and what it means. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (try pronouncing that before breakfast) describes flow as meting the following criteria:
- An activity that absorbs you
- You find it challenging but not too challenging that it becomes stressful
- You are not aware of time passing
- When you finish, you ac knowledge that you thoroughly enjoyed what you were doing and would like to do it again – soon!
That’s a simplistic version and if you think of activities in life that fit the bill, it will often include creative pursuits or perhaps sporting activities – maybe involving nature such as surfing, running, cycling etc. But what is happening more and more, is that we experience flow during the course of our working day. If we’re lucky! And if we truly do love what we do for a living, we are tempted to continue and chip away at the time we might spend doing other activities, with family, friends or at home.
The more time we spend in “flow”, the better mental (and physical) health we will have – or so the research tells us.