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    Posted on Nov 27, 2013

    9 Signs You're "In The Zone"

    Ever play so many video games that space and time cease to exist? You've experienced what psychologists call "flow"—and it might be the secret to happiness.

    You're experiencing "flow."

    Flickr: sapromo

    No, not the ladytimes. Anyone can experience flow, that mental whir of absorption you feel when you're so into what you're doing, you lose all sense of your surroundings. It's like when you've loosened up enough to pick up the Guitar Hero at a party and pick a song just hard enough to where you're not bored (but not anxious, either). So not so much playing Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" on Easy as DragonForce's "Through the Fire and Flames" on, say, Hard.

    You become one with the activity.

    Flickr: mykecircle

    You're so focused in your attempt to accomplish your mission, you're in your own world. Flow can extend to art, work or play, so you can be dancing, answering emails, or earnestly yelling "Boomshakalaka!" playing NBA Jam.

    You forget to eat.

    Flickr: kcrawfish03

    Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi dubbed the blissful state "flow" as one of the keys to happiness. When else are you so engaged in something that you don't have the attention left over to monitor how your body feels and ignore your stomach's mumbling for pizza rolls?

    Your sense of time is distorted.

    Flickr: wwarby

    So much that it almost can feel slowed down, sped up, or just non-existent.

    You forget about loved ones.

    Flickr: anneh632

    And remember the outside world when you realize that the happy dance your dog is doing by the door isn't actually happy.

    You feel really, really good.

    Flickr: 96835023@N05

    Hitting your physical and cognitive stride calms your respiration—including your heart rate and blood pressure—and activates the muscles you use for smiling.

    You want to come back for more.

    Flickr: 44714845@N05

    The total engagement you experience provides a direct feedback loop that activates our neural reward centers. Basically, flow is so enjoyable that just being in that state is something you want to experience again.

    You don't feel lazy.

    Flickr: 28208534@N07

    One of the biggest culprits of flow-induced stiff muscles is video games. But avid gamers aren't being entirely lethargic: Video games can activate brain patterns comparable to those as if they were actually moving like the character. Which, if you're these guys, isn't too far off.

    It makes you more creative. / Via

    Charts are boring, but flow is anything but! Zoning out unlocks your creativity, enhancing your ability to adapt and solve problems, among other intrinsically rewarding things that make you such a smarty pants.

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