During the first year of my MBA, as I sat down for the end-semester exam of the Operations Management course, a classmate next to me noisily opened a packet of potato chips.
As he started munching, its crackling and rustling sound irritated the hell out of me. How would I focus on the exam paper with this racket going on?
Soon, we got the exam paper. The first question was not easy but doable. So I dove in and managed to nail it. Then I attacked the next question, and so on.
Finally, when the paper got over, I took a deep breath and it almost felt like I was coming out of a bubble. I could now sense my breathing and realized that 2 hrs were nearly over. I had totally forgotten about my classmate, now sitting with an empty packet of potato chips.
It was an oddly satisfying experience to be so absorbed in an activity as to lose all sense of distractions and even the passage of time — this is what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called ‘Flow.’
To be happy, we don’t need absurd amounts of money — just create these flow experiences every day by working with intense focus, on activities you find meaningful.