A flow state is where creative work thrives. Many of us already know how it is to be in a state of creative work. Is it about waiting for an inspiration to come or is it about knowing to hack the zone? Csikszentmihalyi thought that creatives like artists, painters, musicians might have some insight. There must be some reason why they toiled away at projects unlikely to yield fame or fortune. Did something about their process bring them fulfilment? One composer told Csikszentmihalyi how, when his work was going well, he experienced a kind of ecstasy. He didn’t need to think, he lost track of time and the music would “just flow out”.
Csikszentmihalyi heard athletes, poets, chess players describe the same phenomenon as well. The flow state is a neurobiological phenomenon, one that the brain go into “transient hypofrontality”. This state deactivates our prefrontal cortex, the brain region of our higher cognitive function and our sense of self that leads us to experience feelings like anxiety, self doubt, critical thinking. They all go quiet and leaves ideas freely flow without any obstacle in the way.