8-3 | Exquisite Moments

Article

Exquisite Moments
Achieving Optimal Flow in Three Activity-Based Groups Regardless of Early-Childhood Adversity

Paula Thomson and S. Victoria Jaque

Abstract:

Flow experiences (also known as optimal performance) occur when people engage in activities they enjoy. The authors discuss such events in their study that examined a number of healthy, active individuals (performing artists, athletes, and others engaged in a range of recreational activities) and divided these into three groups based on adverse childhood experiences. They found that, although flow is higher among the individuals who experienced more adversity in childhood, this same group also had more difficulty regulating emotions and more frequently employed emotion-oriented coping strategies under stress. They also discovered that, compared to the athletes and regularly active individuals, performing artists suffered significantly more adversity in childhood and engaged in more emotionaloriented coping strategies. All three groups, however, enjoyed high autotelic flow experiences, which—so the authors suggest—indicates that the subjects derived meaning from their preferred activities. Overall, the authors claim, their study’s findings reinforce the psychological benefits of flow-based experiences. Key words: adverse childhood experiences (ACE), coping strategies, dispositional flow, flow experiences and athletes, flow experiences and dancers, regulation of emotions