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Wuwei and Flow | Adrien Stoloff | TEDxBrownU

  • Published on Nov 26, 2018
  • When we get so involved in an activity that we forget everything else we are doing, it enables us to be "in the zone.” This feeling of being totally absorbed in an activity is known by positive psychologists as “flow.” In this talk, Adrien discusses the concept of flow and puts it into dialog with the ancient Chinese idea of wuwei, or effortless action. Adrien discusses flow and wuwei, and how recent research in cognitive neuroscience suggests what may be happening in the brain when we experience flow or wuwei. Adrien Stoloff is a doctoral candidate in Asian Religious Traditions. He is interested in Chinese religious beliefs and practices from the late Warring States period to the Early Han Dynasty (approximately 5th-2nd centuries BCE). Specifically, Adrien's research focuses on the Classical Daoist phenomenon of wuwei. Translated as "effortless action," wuwei is a state of being in which one acts effortlessly yet efficiently in a given situation. His dissertation project uses an approach informed by tools in the field of religious studies - textual and historical analysis - as well as by the fields of philosophy and cognitive science. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at www.ted.com/tedx

Comments • 25

  • MyUpandaway
    MyUpandaway 2 years ago +9

    I enjoyed your talk, and especially your way of relating your personal experiences and perspectives of wuwei. You conveyed ‘de’, the Daoist virtue of non-virtue, through your gentle choice of words and your humble body language. I could thus relate to what wuwei means to you from my own wuwei way point of view, and so your talk added a lot of wuwei value to me. Thanks!

  • Top Three Guide
    Top Three Guide Year ago +7

    We have a bigger change of finding flow when we reduce the distractions around us.
    Three tips:
    1) Reduce desires and still your mind.
    For example, by fasting or focusing on our breath
    2) Reduce inner discursive thoughts in the Default Mode Network
    For example, by practising meditation
    3) Engage in activities that don't make you want to check your phone.

  • Stefano Gunawan
    Stefano Gunawan 7 months ago +1

    Cool find. I really appreciate the topics you’ve strung together here - flow, wu-wei, fasting and meditation. Even running. All of these have been principle parts of my own self-development and I’ve definitely witnessed the tight and mutually beneficial relationship between them all.
    I think you could have given yourself more time to flesh these ideas out and bring them to life more though!
    Thanks 🙏❤️

  • Annette Kelly
    Annette Kelly 2 years ago +11

    Thank you for this informative and from the heart talk. I believe that we can all achieve we wui the most important thing is to want to still the mind. There's always that moment which comes around in life where we search. That's a precious moment. It doesn't mean that I have total peace every day but I am learning and growing and living!
    Be still, smile, remember to breathe and love your life...

    • Aditya Jha
      Aditya Jha 6 months ago +1

      For God's sake its Wu Wei and not We Wui

  • JK K
    JK K 2 years ago +11

    I hav been searching for the reason of my depression n stress BT I couldn't figured it out. N today I came across this video ..it feels like universe showed the answer 😊..n I got the answer to my problm.... I haven't done any exercise. Any activity for so long n that's the reason why I feel soo stressed.... He told that wowei n flow ..are way to healthy n mental body n brain ...n I felt really good....thank u 😊

  • Mark Flanigan
    Mark Flanigan 3 years ago +4

    Excellent talk, Adrien!

  • Carol Porto
    Carol Porto 2 years ago +2

    Great presentation! Thank you!!!

  • Taimour Hussain
    Taimour Hussain 2 years ago +3

    Amazing talk

  • Amy Phelps
    Amy Phelps 10 months ago +1

    Wuwei = catching the waves of life.
    To catch a wave you must be relaxed but highly aware.
    To become highly aware you should still the mind.

  • Nihal Bhat
    Nihal Bhat Year ago +1

    wonderful! 😀

  • M Taylor
    M Taylor 2 years ago +2

    To listen to this guy speak is to know the Wuwei.

  • Oly
    Oly 3 months ago


  • nthnppps
    nthnppps 8 months ago

    Sometimes it take adrenaline and can be taxing to maintain

  • Flow State Activation

    Hm, I would say that watching Netflix is _TOTALLY_ a micro flow activity...

  • G Fow
    G Fow 2 years ago +1

    Adrien we share a past.

  • newweaponsdc
    newweaponsdc 3 years ago +18

    He's my brother, but he looks like Roger Federer's brother.

  • nthnppps
    nthnppps 8 months ago

    Go with the flow , but a hundred men in a boat can go against the flow easy

  • Qi Huna
    Qi Huna 2 years ago +9

    *A lot of spoken words....but nothing said.*
    *He effortlessly explained nothing!*

  • dingyhouse
    dingyhouse 3 years ago +4

    It sounds like you are selling a product you don't really believe in, also you leave out essential and deep concepts and those roots in the Warring Period and their modern Chinese forms - leaving out its application to China (nothing big though, I guess - but this might be good to know an be a small segway to your piece on the medical/psychological studies). Then! This is essentially teaching Taoism from an americo-centric view, but for what cause are you doing it? ------------------- Then, @ 6:26 - when you gave definitions without sources (which you do a lot, which makes a lot of you thought muddy - just from all the different sourcing [making it not-common sense - SPEAK IN COMMON SENSE! - haha:]) ------8===> Example? "Flow is morally neutral" - from where (who said this?) - And two - we know they are different - they are different words, but yet you don't define the difference - don't tell us the obvious and then leave us obviously curious.... - Anyway, there ya go - if you need any more help, PM me. - Don't be scared of the audience.

    • gabrielauria
      gabrielauria 10 months ago +2

      you’re so smart, why don’t you do a ted talk for yourself? this guy is probably here because he deserved it. you should hold off criticizing each detail and embrace the general idea the guy wants to pass on

    • descentraland
      descentraland 2 years ago

      And, wowei ist another thing