No it’s not an acronym for anything, it is a state of ‘being’ as you would have probably already imagined. Psychologist Mihály Csìkszentmilályi says that FLOW is the state of complete immersion in an activity, the mental state being, to be completely involved in an activity for its own sake. To be super happy in super focus.
A state where the ego falls away, nothing is bound by time in fact you barely notice the time passing by. Each and every action, movement and thought is an uninterrupted successor of the previous, every particle of your existence is involved and you are using your skills to their epitome.
For example imagine an Olympic payer running a race, he is said to be experiencing FLOW, practically all of his existence, his muscles, his breathing is focused on that one task at hand, with which he is experiencing no discrepancy or block and is utterly involved, and a lack of flow may lead to poor performance. However, not just people involved in sports or immense physical activity experience FLOW or ‘the zone’.
Some people experience it while painting, drawing or writing. When a writer is inspired and writes a book within a night, he is likely experiencing flow too, unlike previously when he was uninspired. Hence FLOW is to do more with your mental state and belief in the task at hand.
The nine defining characteristics of the FLOW experience are:
1. Requirement of a challenge/skill balance
2. Sense of automaticity and spontaneity
3. Goals that are clearly defined
4. Clear feedback
5. Total concentration on the skill being performed
6. Sense of being in control without trying to be in control
7. Loss of self-awareness
8. Loss of time awareness
9. Auto telic experience (meaning/purpose and end result).
Therefore it can be seen that FLOW can be used to help achieve goals, and when learning new skills by facing a challenging task rather than a dull one. It is also an experience that should be aspired in education because over learning a skill or concept makes one experience flow and can enhance performance and similarly it can do that at workplace or in sports. By being an expert in flow you can do more in less time.