SOCIAL FLOW


We not only flow alone but also with others. Research suggests that as much as we might like a solitary flow experience, we enjoy it better when it is shared with others. The research found that when comparing both flow conditions — solitary vs. social flow — the social conditions were more enjoyable.Social flow can be either co-active or interactive.

Co-active social flow occurs when we are part of a group doing something, from watching TV with friends to participating in a foot race. Interactive social flow is enhanced through social interdependence. This occurs when we are part of a collectively competent group where there is complementary participation and a surrender of the self to the group. If you have ever watched a highly skilled baseball, lacrosse, or basketball team working together you have seen social flow in action. People participating in this have surrendered the self and acquire a collective sense of purpose and meaning.

Many of the indicators for social flow are similar to what we’d experience in solitary flow, but with a few interesting additions:

*There is emotional communication during the group as members are participating.

•Emotional contagion within the group and observers external to the group.

•Joy, elation and enthusiasm are felt and shared throughout the group performance.

•Rituals are put in place to institutionalize social flow. The participants want to find ways to make this happen again.

What does this mean? The conclusion by the author of the study concerning flow was simple: “Doing it together is more enjoyable than doing it alone.”

It means we need not only to find those things that bring us personal, solitary flow, but also seek out and savor mutually desirable and shared social events. These social encounters are experiences that allow us to feel most alive. Being in touch with our signature strengths are an important part of social flow.

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