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Do you consider yourself to be a happy person? Whether you do or not, it’s safe to assume that everyone would like to be! Last year, Time published an article on happiness, which claimed that maintaining ‘flow’ and keeping busy are common elements between happy people. Luckily for you, these elements are quite applicable to those who work on a freelance basis!

Happy people find a state of ‘flow’


Flow is a state where you feel completely immersed in your work, focusing on nothing but the activity itself. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the psychologist who identified the concept, defines it as follows, 

“The metaphor of flow is one that many people have used to describe the sense of effortless action they feel in moments that stand out as the best in their lives. Athletes refer to it as ‘being in the zone,’ religious mystics as being in ‘ecstasy,’ artists and musicians as ‘aesthetic rapture.’” 

The aforementioned Time article notes that working in a perpetual state of flow is a consistent indicator of a happy person.

So what does this mean for the freelancer? 

Well, as a freelancer, you can maximize your flow state more than a traditional employee could!

When you come across a piece of work that makes you experience flow, ask yourself what was distinct about the work. Perhaps the time of day was also a significant contributor to achieving flow? 

By narrowing down what types of work you love, and what times of day suit you best, then you’ll be on your way to reproducing a state of flow when working. As a freelancer, you have a significant advantage here: you can choose which contracts to accept or decline, allowing you to hone in on the type of work you love. 

Moreover, you also have the freedom to work when you feel the flow state is most apparent in your day, which isn’t an option that’s available to those restricted to conventional working hours!


Happy people are busy but not rushed


Despite what you might think, resting does not necessarily make one happier. Does this resonate with you? In fact, a 2010 study by Hsee et al. showed exactly the opposite! Commenting on this study, Dr. Jeremy Dean concludes on PsyBlog that,

“When given the choice, participants preferred to do nothing, unless given the tiniest possible reason to do something: a piece of candy. Then they sprang into action.” 

“Not only did people only need the smallest inducement to keep busy, they were also happier when doing something rather than nothing. It’s as if people understand that being busy will keep them happier, but they need an excuse of some kind.”

So what does this mean for the freelancer?

As a freelancer, you’re in the very enviable position of being able to choose how much work you want to take on. However, simply increasing the volume of your work does not necessarily lead to happiness – you want to increase the volume of fulfilling work.

Traditional employees are expected to perform the work asked of them, but as a freelancer you have the opportunity to fill your day with the type of work you love. And this is where flow comes in: having identified the work that allows you to experience flow, you can actively seek to market yourself to clients offering the type of work you find more fulfilling.

Final thoughts


Working on a freelance basis has the potential to allow you to keep busy with work that you love working on. Are you lucky enough to have found this in your freelance career? Feel free to share you thoughts in the comments below!

Focus on these two aspects of your work to become a happier person

Freelancers are potentially happier people

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