So we've been talking about behaviors that make you happy. And the next set of behaviors are ones that are really quick fixes to your mood in the moment, but that we often don't realize can be powerful. These are behaviors where we get a little bit more flow and fun in our lives. First off, what is flow? Well, this is a topic that a very famous positive psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied. In fact, he had a famous book about flow that he called flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience. And he was really interested in this idea of optimal experience. What are the things you can do that make you feel you're alive, you're in the zone, you're really enjoying it? And to write his book, he studied people who had moments like this, like so professional skiers or people who had a profession where they were really using their hands and got in the zone a lot. He often even talked to people who were famous musicians and even people who are famous programmers, right? He was really interested in these moments where you get in the zone. And what he found is that they have a very central feature. People you really feel like they're having this optimal experience are in this state of being in the zone, what he called flow. What he meant by flow was this mental state where you're performing some activity that's challenging, it's kind of hard, but you're so fully immersed that you feel the sense of being energized, you're fully involved. You're not having some anxious feelings about what's going to happen in the future. Like, this activity is consuming you so much that you're just engaged and it turns out that flow feels really good. Flow also has some features that kind of show why it's such a joyous state to be in. One is that it involves challenging but obtainable goals, right? Like, you are really having to work at this, but you know you can get it. So it's not some impossible task that's making you feel like an imposter, it's like something you can do, but it's taking a lot of effort. It also involves a lot of concentration, your mind can't be wandering to other anxiety provoking things, It's just on the task. It's a task that's often intrinsically rewarding, you don't care what you get at the end, just the act of doing it feels really good. People often when they're in these states report feelings of serenity, right? You're just really calm, you lose the sense of self consciousness that, like, voice in our head that's always critiquing ourselves that is gone. Time passes really quickly, people often forget to eat or go to the bathroom and things like that when they're doing these things because they're kind of enjoying their time so much. And then in addition, you're just focused on the activity itself, which is nice because it means your mind's not wandering to a million different things. Your bottom of attention is latching onto this thing and it makes it kind of easy to attend and be mindful. These are the features of flow. And that raises the question, but like, how do we get there? Well, the key is that we have to pick tasks that have two features along two dimensions. We have to pick tasks that are challenging, that are kind of a little bit hard and tasks that we have some skill for. So if you pick a task that's challenging, but you don't have any skill, that's very anxiety provoking, you feel like an impostor, you're never going to do it, that doesn't feel good. But if you pick tasks that are not very challenging where you have lots of skill, maybe that's relaxing, maybe it's even a little boring because you can't do it, right? You really want the sweet spot of something that's hard, but something that you can do. And when Csikszentmihalyi studied these kinds of flow states, he found that they feel really amazing. In fact, here's a quote from his book, the best moments in our lives are not the passive receptive relaxing times. The best moments usually occur if we're pushing our body in our mind to its limit involuntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. It's not when you're plopped down watching Netflix that feels like optimal experience. It's when you're doing something kind of challenging and hard and the journey just feels good. That shows why flow is so powerful, but a second reason flow is important for happiness is that it's also a critical part of experiencing fun. I'm sure you already all know what fun is, but we will give our own course definition of fun. Fun we're going to define as a joy filled experience that's characterized by a combination of three things, playfulness, connection and flow. Fun has really been studied by the journalist, Catherine Price, you met her before because she has this book about How to Break Up with Your Phone. She's also really interested in breaking up with your phone, because she wants you to find ways to get more fun in your life. She characterizes fun as having these three parts, there's flow, you're president, you're enjoying yourself, you're being challenged. You have connection, which we talked about before, right? You're actually engaging with other people, you're doing that other thing that we know brings you a lot of happiness. But there's a third part that we haven't talked a lot about, which is sort of playfulness. It's not playfulness like you think of little kids where you're playing, it's really doing an activity because it's intrinsically rewarding. It's not because you want to put it on your college application or it's not because your parents told you to do it or you feel like you're supposed to, you just inherently find it rewarding. That is a playful attitude and you kind of don't care how you perform because it's just inherently rewarding, right? The key is that when we have playfulness in our lives, we wind up feeling happier and we can reduce things like our stress levels. One study looked at this directly in college students. They brought college students in to talk about how stressed out they were, but they also looked at the coping skills that college students had and the amount that they naturally played. What they found is that the level of a college students play goes up, the level of their stress goes down. They also found that the students who played the most tended to have the best coping strategies for their levels of stress. And the idea is that we can use playfulness, like doing these intrinsically rewarding, just fun things as a way to combat stress. And so, that's all great. But I think there's a big problem, particularly for your generation, which is that your generation didn't get to experience as much playfulness as other generations. Your generation is the very busy generation where you had a million extracurriculars and sports and things that your parents had you do. That didn't necessarily feel fun or flow inducing or they weren't playful in the sense they were intrinsically rewarding, you had to do them. And now as teens, your calendar is filled with this stuff to the brim, you're the busiest generation in history. But you're also a generation that spontaneously sometimes reports that this activity you've been doing for a while is no longer giving you any fun because it doesn't feel playful. It feels like this thing you have to do, you have to be good at and so on. And that's kind of bad, it means you all need some remedial help when it comes to fun and flow. So how can you get more of that? Luckily, we have our psychprotips, yeah. But the fastest one, is that you need to find ways to get into flow states and that means that sometimes you need to challenge yourself more in your leisure than you think. And this is tough, because you all are an exhausted lot, you're in a generation of exhausted students that don't have that much time. And when you do get time, it can feel like what you want to do is relax. You want to plop and watch Netflix or you just want to watch some TikTok videos, you just want something that's easy, because so much else feels hard. The problem is that, if you only do easy things, you never get into that challenging flow state, you get into relaxing experiences but never optimal experiences. So to get more flow, you gotta find leisure activities that are a little bit more challenging than the normal plop down and watch TV or look at something on social media. In addition, the research suggests that if you want to get more fun in your life, you need to cut down on the opportunity cost of things like fake fun and junk flow. What do I mean by fake fun? I mean things that feel like you're in this flow state, but it's not like a good flow state. You know, sometimes you have that video gaming app on your phone and you start playing it and you play it and it feels like you're in flow because you're really there. But you stop and you feel kind of gross and nasty and you're like, why did I just do that with my life? That's junk flow, that's fake fun, it's stuff that sucks you in. But ultimately it's not giving you that kind of optimal experience. And I think we get that a lot from flicking through channels on the TV, right? We get that a lot through endlessly watching streams of TikTok videos and so on. I think it's important to cut down on this. And in fact, Catherine Price writes that if you identify the sources of your fake fund. So if you know, when I'm getting fake fun, it's on TikTok, when I'm getting fake fun, it's on this one video game app on my computer or something. Then when you identify these things, you can figure out how to reduce time you're spending on it. And that's just going to give you extra hours in your week when you can find real fun, challenging fun, good fun. Finally, it's important to kind of figure out the particular things that you find fun. So Catherine Price and others suggest that you should engage in what she calls a fun audit, which isn't the normal kind of audit. It's a time when you're going to journal about the points in your life that you experience the most fun, here's how it works. You want you to write down three times in your life that you would describe as just so fun. And it's okay if it was like a couple of years ago, it's okay if it wasn't that recent, but what are times that are so fun, right? And literally write them down to the point that you're almost smiling when you think about them, right? And then you kind of do a little diagnosis of this like, who was there? What were you doing? Where were you? When was it? Right, you're trying to figure out what she calls your fun factors, maybe there's a person in your life that's a fun factor. Whenever you're around this one person, you're having fun or maybe whenever you're in a specific spot, you're having fun. Maybe being at the beach or outside or on the basketball court, right? Try to figure this out and then once you've done that analysis, those are the things that are going to make you inflow. Those are the things that are going to give you some fun. So, think about ways that you could add more of that into your life. I've done this myself because whenever I analyze my fun factors, there's certain people in my life that I experience the most fun with, but I'm busy, so I don't often see them. And so, it's caused me to kind of make sure I get in the calendar at some time with them because inevitably it's going to be the kind of time that's really fun. And so, there are ways that you can engage with more fun, you have to get a little bit intentional about it. I think especially your generation, that kind of missed the fun boat more than other generations. But by doing that, you can get this truly optimal experience that can cause us to live a better life.