In the 1970s, the distinguished psychologist John H. Flavell coined the term “Metacognition” to mean “thinking about one’s own thinking”. In 1990, another distinguished psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, coined the term “Flow state” (originally called the “Unified Flow Experience”) which the Medical Dictionary defines as “an altered state of consciousness in which the mind functions at its peak, time may seem distorted, and a sense of happiness prevails. In such a state the individual feels truly alive and fully attentive to what is being done.” Bill Harvey used the term “Observer state” to denote the state in which one is able to detach from one’s own emotional and ego-related reactions to what one observes, i.e. a state of being able to objectively critique one’s own thinking. Harvey subsequently perceived relationships among these three states, as outlined below.
The more one practices metacognition, making it a part of one’s life, the more one lapses into the Observer state, eventually becoming firmly established in it most of the time. The more time one spends in Observer state, the more often one lapses into Flow state and maintains it for longer periods.
Metacognition appears to be a precondition of the Observer state, just as the Observer state is a precondition for the Flow state.
Metacognition – the practice of thinking about one’s thought processes
Observer state – the temporary or permanent ability to objectively challenge one’s own prior thought (which signals a degree of willpower development)
Flow state – automatic “perfect” performance
Metacognition is now a broad and fertile field at the growing tip of psychology as a science.
In Dr. Flavell’s usage of his own term, reading his work one notes that in the inventor’s mind, metacognition includes metamemory and metaemotion.
Metamemory – the ability to think about how to remember things better, and to practice and hone those skills as part of life
Metaemotion – the ability to metaprogram one’s own feelings by thinking rationally about them
Dr. Flavell also leaves open the door that the subconscious may also be doing its own form of metacognition.
Harvey has recently realized that there are as many “metas” as there are functions of the mind, viz.:
Metasubconscious – Use of metacognition to communicate better with one’s own subconscious mind – making more of the subconscious, conscious
Metaperception – Use of metacognition to be more observant
Metaintuition – Using metacognition to pay attention to one’s hunches and to keep track of which ones were accurate vs. inaccurate, and to contemplate why the ones that failed, did so; what were the other conditions present in those cases?
In “Becoming Immediately More Effective”, Harvey lays out which of these “metas” is taught in each chapter of the MIND MAGIC manual.
We note also in the literature of metacognition that the term “mindreading” is used, often without quotes. This appears to refer to the work of the mirror neurons and does not necessarily posit ESP.
Bill Harvey writes:
“I wrote my manual on micro-reprogramming oneself, MIND MAGIC, long before I knew what I was doing was metacognition. Reading Dr. Flavell’s work is definitely a peak experience for me. It puts my work in perspective to myself.
“I used the term ‘micro-reprogramming’ to signal that the MIND MAGIC manual is very ‘micro’. It gets way down into the ‘what do I do next?’ level of metacognition practices, the techniques I used (a) to get to do my passion work in life, which is perhaps the summum bonum, and (b) to which I owe my much-appreciated Flow state experiences. Obviously, I want as many people to read the manual as possible – and/or to get to metacognition, the Observer and Flow states by any other means. My vision is that someday we will all be in the Observer and Flow states. That is the world I wish to all of us.”