Wrote while reading “Flow and Foundations of Positive Psychology”. P 216
A simple way to define both ILM and Flow: Control over subjective experience. Control over what you are doing and thinking, which influences how you feel, how you experience time, and how you learn.
How ILM and Flow relate
ILM happens over long spans of time, whereas flow happens in short spurts. ILM stretches flow into an everyday affair and gradually the learner learns how to structure not just minutes of experience, but years of experience around intrinsically rewarding experiences. In doing so, the learner can form intractable goals (i.e. ideals) that probably are not clear in the beginning, but emerge over time. Also, through the power of the positive emotions that controlling subjective experience brings*, the learner realizes that collaborating and communicating with people will increase the durability and frequency of “optimal experiences” (flow) and accelerate the learner toward bigger and clearer goals**. And, because experience is actually an information processing function in the brain, taking in more information becomes necessary to maintain a flow and ILM state. From a behavioral point of view, “continuous learning” becomes necessary to control subjective experience. And, it is through this process that the learner pedals past the average person (non-ILMer) in knowledge, skills, and abilities. Performance becomes a byproduct of learning. Learning becomes the driving force behind purposeful, liberating, meaningful experience and the wellspring of achievement and societal contributions.
*This is where dopamine and “happiness neurons” take their role in supporting ILM - ultimately, feelings are a chemical process that are influenced by interactions between thought and action.
**This process is energizing. It’s where the person derives her passion, zeal, and tireless devotion.
Note: Csikszentmihaly changed the term for flow twice before arriving at the term, flow. First, autotelic experience. Second, optimal experience.