A Simple Mental Model to Understand What Makes You Happy at Work and Beyond

Tweak your work activities to make them more fulfilling

What makes you enjoy your work?

The American psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi established the famous Flow Model to answer this question.

He termed the state of feeling happy as being in flow. But what is it that gets you in flow at work?

He interviewed over a thousand people and found 5 markers of being in flow. It occurs when:

  • We are intensely focused on an activity

  • The activity is of our own choosing

  • The activity is neither too easy nor too challenging

  • We have a clear objective

  • We receive immediate feedback

Further, he found that people in flow:

  • feel a profound sense of satisfaction

  • lose track of time

  • forget themselves completely as they are immersed in the task

This happens to me for example when I’m writing, creating visuals, and thinking through a problem with pen and paper.

It also happens in sports or during artistic work. Athletes and musicians claim that they are happiest when they are absorbed by an intense activity.

The Flow Model by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi — Image by the author

What you can do

Think about the activities at your job.

  • How often do you experience flow?

  • What is preventing you from reaching these states?

  • What can you do to fulfill the above-mentioned prerequisites for flow?

Let me know how it goes.

Talk soon,


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About Me

Hi, I’m Alex. I’m an engineer, team lead, and ex-consultant. I have been studying and applying systematic problem-solving and leadership for 10+ years.

I founded Lead & Succeed to coach young professionals and emerging leaders.