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让创造力激发的“心流”是怎样的一种状态

更新时间:2019/2/28 18:26:22 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The 'flow state': Where creative work thrives
让创造力激发的“心流”是怎样的一种状态

Growing up in World War Two-ravaged Europe, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi saw the adults around him struggling to rebuild their lives – and often losing the will to try. He became preoccupied by a question that doesn’t trouble most kids: what makes life worth living?

米哈伊·奇克森特米哈伊(Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)在二战期间饱受战火蹂躏的欧洲长大,小时候他看到大人们都在努力地在战后重建自己的生活,但也有人失去了意志。于是,他开始专注于一个大多数其他孩子都不会去费力关心的问题:是什么让生命值得活下去?

Csikszentmihalyi moved from Hungary to the US to study psychology and the question that had obsessed him since childhood.

后来,奇克森特米哈伊从匈牙利搬到美国,研究心理学,希望解开从小就困扰他的这个问题。

He wondered how wealth fit into the happiness equation, but the data suggested money wasn’t the answer; beyond a certain, basic threshold, increases in income hardly affected well-being. So, as he recounted in a TED talk enticingly subtitled The Secret to Happiness, he decided to explore “where in everyday life, in our normal experience, do we feel really happy?”.

他想知道,财富和幸福的关系是怎样的。研究显示,金钱并不能带来快乐;超过一个基本值,收入再往上增加几乎不会提升幸福感。因此,正如他在TED演讲中(那场演讲的题目很吸引人——《幸福的秘诀》)所说的,他决定探索“在哪些日常生活和日常经历中,我们能感受到真正的幸福”。

Csikszentmihalyi thought that creatives – 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? What made their sacrifice worthwhile? 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.

奇克森特米哈伊认为,创意工作者,比如艺术家、画家和音乐家,可能会有一些独到见解。他们长期辛劳地投身那些不大可能带来名声或财富的项目,一定有原因。这些工作是否给他们带来满足感?是什么让他们的付出有所回报?一位作曲家告诉奇克森特米哈伊,当创作进展顺利时,他会体验到一种狂喜。不需要思考,会忘记了时间,音乐自己会“流出来”。奇克森特米哈伊从运动员、诗人、象棋选手那里都听过同样的话。

Indeed, there was something special happening. Csikszentmihalyi called this trance-like altered state of total absorption and effortless concentration ‘flow’.

的确,有一些特别的事情发生。奇克森特米哈伊将这种完全沉浸其中、毫不费力、聚精会神的入迷状态,称之为“心流”。

That was 40 years ago. Since then Csikszentmihalyi, along with colleagues all over the world, has studied Himalayan climbers, Dominican monks, Navajo shepherds and thousands of others. To all of our good fortune, the researchers have found that ‘flow’ is not the exclusive realm of artists. In fact, we can experience flow whenever we are fully engaged with our work or hobbies or relationships, in mountains and monasteries alike.

那是40年前的事了。从那以后,奇克森特米哈伊和他在世界各地的同行一道,研究了喜马拉雅山脉的登山者、道明会的修士、北美原住民纳瓦霍人(Navajo)当中的牧羊人,以及其他数千人。幸运的是,研究人员发现“心流”并非艺术家专有。事实上,只要我们全身心地投入到工作、爱好或关系中,我们就能体验心流,无论是在山间还是庙宇。

A state of ‘flow’

“心流”状态

A handful of conditions characterise the ‘flow state’.

进入“心流状态”有几个标志性条件。

“There's this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback,” Csikszentmihalyi said in his February 2004 TED talk. “You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears, you forget yourself, you feel part of something larger. And once the conditions are present, what you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake.”

“有这样一种专注,一旦它变得强烈,就会带来一种狂喜和清晰的感觉:从一个时刻到另一个时刻,你都很清楚自己要做什么;你做的事即刻得到回报,”奇克森特米哈伊在2004年2月的TED演讲中说。“你知道你要做的事情充满困难,但是可以做到的,时间感就消失了,你忘记了自己,觉得自己是某个更大事物的一部分。一旦条件具备,你所做的事情本身就变得有价值,有吸引力,而不需任何外界因素的促进。”

Some people also call this period of hyperfocus ‘being in the zone’. Whether you call it ‘flow’ or ‘the zone’, it's not just a state of mind. It’s accompanied by physiological changes, too. In a 2010 Swedish study on classical pianists, the musicians who entered flow exhibited deepened breathing and slowed heart rates. Even the facial muscles that enable us to smile were activated.

有些人把这段异常专注的时期称之为“进入了化境”。不管是“心流”还是“化境”,它都不仅是一种心理状态,生理变化也随之而来。2010年瑞典一项针对古典钢琴音乐家的研究发现,进入心流状态的音乐家出现呼吸加深、心率减慢的现象。甚至面部的微笑肌也被激活。

The benefits of being in the zone stretch beyond the experience itself. Flow is associated with subjective well-being, satisfaction with life and general happiness. At work, it’s linked to productivity, motivation and company loyalty.

化境的好处远远超出了这种体验本身。心流与主观幸福感、生活满意度和总体幸福感有关。在工作中,它与生产力、积极性和公司忠诚度有关。

Some people may be naturally prone to flow – especially those who score high on personality tests for conscientiousness and openness to experience, and low on measures of neuroticism. But if you don’t experience flow every day, can you find a way to trigger it?

有些人可能天生就容易进入心流状态,尤其是那些在性格测试中责任心强、开放度高,在神经质测试中得分低的人。但如果你不是每天都有心流体验,那你能找到触发它的方法吗?

Getting into the zone

进入化境

First, you must create the optimal conditions to get to your flow state.

首先,您必须创造进入心流状态的最佳条件。

“Avoid noisy environments and opportunity for interruptions,” advises Giovanni Moneta, an academic psychologist at London Metropolitan University and the author of Positive Psychology: A Critical Introduction.

“避开嘈杂和可能被打断的的环境,”伦敦都市大学(London Metropolitan University)的心理学家、《积极心理学导论》(Positive Psychology: A Critical Introduction)的作者乔凡尼·莫尼塔(Giovanni Moneta)建议道。

The activity makes a difference, too. “We need to engage in activities that are meaningful to us, that we find challenging and for which we feel that we have the skills required to come out as winners.”

活动本身也是重要因素。“我们需要参与对我们有意义、有挑战性的活动,而且我们觉得自己具备成功所需的技能。”

We are more likely to access the flow state when engaged in tasks we’ve already practiced. Think of the expert figure skater on the rink or the confident singer at the microphone. The level of difficulty should also be just right – not so easy that you find yourself bored, but not so hard that you get stressed.

当我们事先经过练习,就更有可能进入心流状态。想想滑冰场上专业的花样滑冰运动员,或者麦克风前自信的歌手。难度也要适中,不要简单到觉得无聊,也不要难到让人感到压力。

Of course, that isn’t something we can always control. American author Steven Kotler, who wrote a book about peak human performance, has admitted that, as much as we’ve learned about its biological correlates and mental benefits, “flow is still a happy accident when it happens. All we can do is make you more accident-prone.”

当然,这些并非我们总能随意控制的。美国作家科特勒(Steven Kotler)写过一本关于人类最佳表现的书。他承认,尽管我们已经了解了心流状态的生理反应和对心灵的裨益,“当发生时,心流仍然是一个快乐的意外。我们所能做的就是让你更容易发生这种意外。”

And, as Moneta warns, flow can be exhausting. The work involved in completing a big project involves a lot more than the ecstatic, if preternaturally productive, periods of flow. To get to the finish line of a task, it’s just as important to slog through the boring parts and push through the uncomfortably difficult ones.

正如莫尼塔所警告的,心流可能会让人精疲力尽。完成一个大项目所涉及的,不仅仅是心流的沉醉阶段(如果超级高效的话)。为了到达任务的终点,应对无聊的部分,并穿过令人不适的困难阶段,同样重要。

Mindfulness matters

正念很重要

If you’re struggling to achieve flow – or just worn out by its intensity – you might aim for mindfulness instead. Think of mindfulness as a more accessible cousin of flow.

如果心流难以实现,或者被它的强度所累,你或许可以选择正念。就把它设想为心流的同质境界,但进入更容易。

“The concepts are very similar,” says Ellen Langer, a psychology professor at Harvard who has written several books on mindfulness, creativity and belief. “The major difference is that mindfulness is a state of mind that is available to everybody virtually all the time. It’s not an unusual thing.”

“这两个概念非常相似,”写过几本关于正念、创造力和信仰专着的哈佛大学心理学教授兰格(Ellen Langer)说。“主要的区别在于,正念是一种几乎每时每刻每个人都能获得的心理状态。它不是什么不寻常的事情。”

Mindfulness confers many of the same benefits as flow, she says:

她说,正念和心流拥有很多共同的好处。

"When people are mindful, their blood pressure comes down. All the physiological signs indicate greater wellbeing. People see you as charismatic. You’re healthier, you’re happier, your relationships are better. The things you produce are better. We have symphony musicians performing mindfully or in their typical state (over-rehearsed and mindless). We play those pieces for people who don’t know anything about the study. Close to 90% prefer the mindfully played piece."

“当人们专心的时候,血压会下降,所有的生理指标都显得更健康。人们认为你很有魅力,你更健康、快乐,人际关系也更好。你的工作更出色。我们让交响乐团的音乐家身心投入地演奏,以及在典型状态下(过度排练或心不在焉)的演奏。将曲子播放给那些对这项研究一无所知的人听,近90%的人更喜欢用心演奏的曲子。”

Almost any activity can be done mindfully, too – no yoga or meditation necessary.

几乎任何活动都可以专注地完成——无需瑜伽或者冥想。

“Simply say to yourself, ‘What are five new things about this person that I live with, this route that I’m taking home?’. Looking for new in the familiar leads us to be mindful,” says Langer. “If you’re talking to somebody and you think you know what they’re going to say, you barely listen. If you start off recognising that you don’t know, you have a very different attitude. Everything becomes more interesting, and if it’s interesting, it’s naturally engaging.”

“只需对自己说,'和我住在一起的这个人身上,或者我回家的这条路,有哪五个新特点?'在熟悉的事物中寻找新东西会让我们更加专注,”兰格说。“如果和别人说话,你觉得你知道他们会说什么,就几乎不会专心去听。如果你一开始就意识到你不知道,态度就会截然不同。每件事都变得更有趣。如果有趣,自然就会更吸引人。”

Someone once asked me, upon learning that I was a writer, whether I “often experienced flow”. There’s a stereotype that writers and creatives can enter the zone at will – that we sit down at our laptops and the world melts away.

曾经有人得知我是一名作家,就问我是否“经常经历心流”。有一种成见,作家和创意人员可以随意体验化境状态——我们坐在笔记本电脑前,俗务就逐渐消散了。

I’ve been practicing some of the elements of Moneta’s criteria to enter the zone for years. But I can remember accessing a state resembling flow only a few times; the vast majority of the hours I spend writing are closer to a grind than a trance. With any project, there are so many variables I can’t predict. Will my sources respond? Does the information I seek exist? Will someone send me a text starting ‘OMG’ to take me away from my focus? ­Plus, the idea of orchestrating a scenario in which the challenge exceeds my skills by 4% (as Kotler’s formula to enter flow recommends) strikes me as absurd.

多年来,我一直在练习莫尼塔进入化境的一些标准要素。但我印象中只有几次进入了类似心流的状态;我大多数的写作,与其说是一种入迷的状态,不如说是一种折磨。在任何写作项目中,都有很多变量是我无法预测的。我的查询的信息来源会回复我吗?我寻找的那个资料存在吗?会有人给我发一条以“哦,天呐”(OMG)开头的短信,来转移我的注意力吗?另外,我也无法按照科特勒进入心流公式的推荐,精心安排一个超出我能力4%的挑战,我觉得刻意这样做实在是太荒谬了。

Mindfulness, though, is more manageable. I can improve my focus by putting my phone in a drawer; when a task seems overwhelming, I can pause and take a breath. I can’t say it makes me feel transcendent, but I’ll take whatever calm I can get.

相对来说,正念更容易管理。想要提高注意力,我可以把手机放进抽屉里;如果遇到棘手问题时,我可以停下来喘口气。我不能说这让我感觉超然入境,但我会尽我所能接近这种境界。

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