The power of “flow”: finding happiness in the cold Maine ocean

Posted July 28, 2011, at 10:57 a.m.
Last modified July 28, 2011, at 11:27 a.m.

An editor at Harvard Medical School writes about the power of being in a state of psychological “flow” — which she recently experienced during an exhilarating swim in the frigid Atlantic off Cape Elizabeth.

“To experience flow is to achieve a state of intense absorption in which you lose awareness of time. It occurs when you strike the right balance between challenge and skill. If the task is too challenging for your level of skill, anxiety creeps in. If your skill level exceeds the challenge, boredom sets in. Swimming in the cold surf of Maine posed a challenge for me, but I’m a competent swimmer and had experience in cold water. I swam with a partner for only a short time to avoid hypothermia. It was fun. It made me happy.”

Check out Kay Cahill Allison’s piece in the Harvard Health Blog here.

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