[MUSIC] Hi and welcome back to the course and good to have you join us on this cargo bike ride, where we're also going to talk about a very fitting topic. Which is this idea of flow and how mobility as flow can be studied and understood in that way. Marco, who is one of the co-authors of the paper, we'll talk a bit to you about what the paper is about. Yeah, so it actually starts with the idea that mobility is a dis-utility, that we talked about in our second blog, The Mainstream Narrative. We started to explore the idea of, what if there's also utility in being underway. So, the first way to explore that concept was the idea of self-actualization. The idea of being underway as something that actually is not only making you healthy but also something that helps you to achieve optimal performance. Optimal life. When you start exploring that, you get quickly into the literature dominated by this one Hungarian American Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied how people experience and achieve optimal performance, especially in the workplace in the 1990s. He studied the conditions that people require to get into, what he then coined, a state of flow. In a state of flow, people don't experience time. They're not self-aware. So many people experience this in the working place when they are challenged, but not over-challenged. So they have everything under control, but they are still challenged. At that moment, something happens in your brain that makes you feel that you're performing optimally. Now, that concept we saw as a very interesting candidate to study, especially active mobility. It might explain why people that walk and bike have these similar types of experiences. That's really interesting and I thought that the way to really express this idea was actually to show the students ourselves. Right now, well I'm not exercising but you are. Yes. So we've been on this bike ride for a few minutes now. Could you relate the ideas of this paper to what we're doing right now? Yes. Yeah. Yes. So if you look through the lens of flow theory, flow theory has this idea of a number of conditions that you have to meet to get into flow. One we already talked about is the idea of challenge, and that your skill level and your challenges have to meet. So you're on a bike for instance, you want to find a route that actually challenges you to a certain extent. That's very different per person. Some people really like low challenge environment like the one that we are cruising in now, especially if you want to chat. Yeah. You don't want to overburden yourself. Some people actually want to find very high-stress levels because they really want to be engaged. There are more conditions, so this is one. The other condition is that to get into flow state, you actually want to be fully embodied involved. So you want your full body to be involved in the experience, that really helps. For instance, surfing. Golf is a very good example of that and cycling, right? You use your full body to stay upright, to look around, and to get forward. The third one is using all your sensories. So we now get the wind, we smell things, we see things, we hear things, and all these inputs we actually require to function on our bike. All this input is then used in our brain. Again this condition leads us to reach levels of flow. So these are three of the most important conditions of flow. After that summary, do you feel the benefits of flow right now in terms of trying to talk and lecture about this paper while also being on a bike? Yeah. The paper talks about flow as one of the mental states that you can experience while being on the way. It relates also if you have too many challenges, you quickly run into another mind state which is called stress or even anxiety. Where are you right now? I have to say that cycling. Yeah. Trying to get the main ideas of the paper together, puts a lot of pressure on my mental state. It's quite stressful. It's quite stressful, but we are in a street that's very low stress. Yes. Perhaps if we were to imagine where we're trying to bike down a busy street with a lot of traffic. I would not be able to talk this easy about complex of this subjects. There is a relationship between the environment and our perception of the environment. Do you find yourself taking different routes to get places, for example, to work on different days just to maintain the state of flowed or to try and get a certain level of experience out of the room? Yeah, there was exactly the starting points. Yeah. We see that cyclists in all kinds studies, do not always follow the shortest route. One hypothesis from this theory would suggest that people optimize their routes for their personal levels of flow. I also do that. We have a lot of examples, especially in environments where you have choice, like Amsterdam. You see that some people really prefer to take the parks, while other people really prefer to take the busy streets, and also they shift during the day. In the paper, we actually explore a bit, the strategies. We did a short empirical study, where we asked people, "Do you relate to these concepts?" "Do you have strategies to prevent or to achieve certain mental states?" Then you see that indeed that people not only on bikes, but also in public transport and in the car, they have all strategies to, for instance, challenge themselves if they are bored or the opposite, making themselves more relaxed, listening to music, or watching the environment flow by. People actually could relate very well to this idea that mobility is also relating to mental states. See that's extra challenge there. Before we wrap up, can you suggest an experiment that we could do on our own in terms of seeing how different types of transport can get us to the state of flow, which is suggest an exercise for students to try out in this course. Yeah, so what we do in the paper, we talk about the conditions of getting into flow, and these conditions from the paper, you can try to see how you use them yourself. We show some empirical evidence of how it works and the mechanisms behind it, but we also talk about the outcomes. Why is it so important to reach a flow state? Because in a flow state, that's a really funny bonus, you get creative. It has to do with, it's called the hyper frontal cortex hypothesis, where the idea is that because you're in flow, your pre-frontal cortex shuts down. That allows you, first of all to lose track of time, and to lose track of a sense of self. It also makes you creative, so you can think about yourself. Is it for you also under which conditions, do you become creative while being on the move? That would be, maybe you're thinking already about certain e-mails that you have to send, or paper you have to write. What you often hear in the Dutch context is that many people like professors, but also musicians and artists, they talk about how ideas emerged first while being underway, and often being on the way on the bike. This would be an experiment for yourself in your coming days, right down notes. What kind of ideas emerged when you were on the way, and under what conditions those ideas emerged. Because that would be a great proxy indication of you being in a flow state. Yeah, definitely give it out a try. You decide train pass by, so whatever mode of mobility that you take every day, see how it can get you into the state of flow or not. To conclude, I want to thank you Michael, for a giving me this ride. Awesome. I definitely get a bit of the state of flow just by experiencing the environment myself. Good luck on reading the paper, try this out for yourself. Hopes that it makes you more critical, and we'll see you in the next lesson.