26 Sep Happiness and flow in groups and at work
I just read a fascinating post on the “Friends of Positive Psychology Listserve” commenting on some unpublished but very exciting research into ‘syntelic” flow (i.e., flow experiences with others).
It seems that Charles Walker and a group from St. Bonaventure University have found that flow with others is more powerful than solitary flow. The level of interdependence is a variable too. For example, they”ve found that games that require more cooperation produce higher levels of flow. Games like soccer produce more flow than games like baseball or team forms of golf. So, interacting is better than co-acting although both are social.
They’ve also found that audiences prefer watching highly interdependent forms of flow and the researchers suggest that a certain vicarious syntelic flow is a real phenomenon. Audiences enjoy watching teams, players, musicians get into flow and it appears that audiences actively play a role in staging flow and keeping who they are watching in flow states.
Now we know that flow is very important for happiness and especially when it comes to happiness at work, utilising strengths to experience flow is undoubtedly a key contributing factor. What this preliminary research might be telling us is that to best achieve flow and happiness at work we should be doing whatever we can to ensure our jobs are interdependent and require cooperation.