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Is there a term that can describe that a job, however exhausting it might be, just does itself? Meaning, for example, that all doubt concerning how you're doing a job, whether or not you should do the job instead of something else, or any doubt of the value you're creating is just not there?

As an example, I saw an interview where an author was asked how much effort it took to write a particular book. The answer was "No effort at all, the book wrote itself", which is of course not literally true, because it takes reasearch, time, dedication and long hard hours in front of a PC to write a book. Still, I understand what they mean by this, when looking back to certain efforts I've made myself. But I don't know if this can be described in full by a certain term.

I'm surprised how hard it was to find anything about this just googling, so any suggestions would be great!

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand the question; what job 'does itself?' And the second sentence doesn't make much sense: 'meaning [...] how you're doing a job [...] is just not there' is unintelligible (at least to me). Can you clarify the Q and improve its wording? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jan 20 at 7:27
  • $\begingroup$ @AliceD I saw an interview where an author was asked how much effort it took to write a particular book. The answer was "No effort at all, the book wrote itself", which is of course not literally true, because it takes reasearch, time, dedication and long hard hours in front of a PC to write a book. Still, I understand what they mean by this, when looking back to certain efforts I've made myself. I hope this makes more sense, and thank you for your interest in the question! $\endgroup$
    – vestland
    Jan 20 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ So you are talking about a feeling restrospectively? This changes the question premise considerably I think, also given below answer that's talking about a current mental state. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jan 20 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ @AliceD I would be interested in both, actually. The retrospective feeling and a description of the mental state as the work is being done. $\endgroup$
    – vestland
    Jan 20 at 10:55
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    $\begingroup$ To be honest, the phrase "the job just did itself", even if it is not exactly a feeling, is perhaps the best way to describe it! $\endgroup$ Jan 20 at 13:35

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There is a mental state called flow, similar in ways to trance and absorption, in which mental focus is fully taken by one task. In the case of flow, the usual focus on a particular goal is replaced by focus on the task itself, losing both oneself and the future by entering fully into the moment and the action itself. In a way, one's state of being merges with the action, so as to become the action. From Wikipedia:

In positive psychology, a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one's sense of time.

Enjoyment of the activity stems from the experience itself, rather than from what one expects to gain as a result of the action. As such the activity is said to be intrinsically rewarding. Basically one has transcended worry and self-reflection, fully engrossed without question. From my experience, questioning the task can break the flow. From Wikipedia:

Some of the challenges to staying in flow include states of apathy, boredom, and anxiety. The state of apathy is characterized by easy challenges and low skill level requirements, resulting in a general lack of interest in the activity. Boredom is a slightly different state that occurs when challenges are few, but one's skill level exceeds those challenges causing one to seek higher challenges. A state of anxiety occurs when challenges are high enough to exceed perceived skill level, causing distress and uneasiness. These states in general prevent achieving the balance necessary for flow.

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