In his research, the positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi has posited a theory that the key to human flourishing is what he calls “flow.” He argues that humans experience the greatest amount of fulfillment and enjoyment in that magical intersection of difficulty and competency in which we are able to be both absorbed and challenged by our activities. This relates to everything from our work to our leisure, and it encapsulates everything from the thrill of accomplishment to the joy of sports.
I would argue that the natural wisdom of his research points to a deeper reality that goes beyond our natural abilities and our conscious effort. As much as the things of this world can provide us with happiness, there is a greater experience of flow and fulfillment that takes place when we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual flow involves us walking in the presence of the Lord. As we learn to recognize and orient our lives towards the still point of Christ’s love, we shed layers of self-consciousness and egocentricity, opening our hearts to the energizing motions of the Holy Spirit. The discovery of Christ’s love operating in the depths of our hearts is not the result of positive thinking or mere sentimentality, but is a profound gift of God’s grace. Our intentional effort involves us ridding ourselves of all attachments that hinder this important work of God.
In this way, we must learn to embrace a two-fold movement. First, we must renounce our personal will and our limited perspectives in a path of continual conversion. As this takes place, we must learn to turn towards Christ with complete obedience and embrace the gift of his love. This obedience to Christ, in turn, frees us from the limits of our individual perspectives, giving us a renewed vision in him and through him. Such a vision informs and energizes our work in the world as we learn to embrace our Cross and to follow Christ.
Today, let us learn to cultivate spiritual flow by inviting Jesus into every aspect of our life. The more will allow Christ to guide and direct our interior life, the more we will learn to allow ourselves to be drawn up into the mystery of his divinizing love.