For a brief moment, have you ever caught yourself in the zone? Zeroed in completely on the task at hand, as if nothing else in that moment maters, determined to succeed. Catching yourself in that moment, when you realize what’s happening is almost like a dream upon your awakening – it vanishes. The feeling is God-like.
That is your Flow State, when you’re in the zone, a natural gift we seldom recognize or know how to tap into. You may have witnessed someone experiencing a flow state for yourself, but may not even have realized. Take a look a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo or even how Sidney Crosby performs on the ice. It takes a special type of talent to perform at the levels they’ve achieved and consistently tapping into their flow could be argued as one of the biggest contributors.
Some of life’s greatest achievements in art and scientific breakthroughs are all due to flow. That flow state exists within all of us, flow is ubiquitous, and can be used to help us achieve our greatest potential.
What is Flow?
“Flow is an optimal state of consciousness, when you feel and perform your best” – Steven Kotler
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. Csikszentmihalyi is noted for his work in the study of happiness and creativity, but is best known as the architect of the notion of flow and for his years of research and writing on the topic. In his TedTalk Flow, the secret to happiness, he said:
How Does It Feel to Be in Flow?
Completely involved in what we are doing – focused, concentrated.
A sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality.
Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done, and how well we are doing.
Knowing that the activity is doable – that skills are adequate to the task.
A sense of serenity – no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego.
Timelessness – thoroughly focused on the present, our sin to pass by in minutes.
Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces flow becomes its own reward.
Be Water My Friend…
Flow happens when a massive amount of variables are all set to the right position, like the knobs on a sound technician’s soundboard who meticulously prepared for an upcoming show. It’s a result of life, how you live it, and most importantly how you prepare yourself for it. Flow is the culmination of years of practice, goal setting and achieving, and most importantly constant attention.
Those who experience flow are usually driven, out there fighting for the top, to be the best in the world ― but again, flow is not only reserved for them. Most people do not feel the need to tap into their full potential, to push themselves. Great athletes and musicians are an easy reference as they’ve even crafted their skill to be a constant byproduct of flow, but that does not mean you cannot do the same for yourself. Flow can happen in music, art, business or where ever you make it work, tapping into flow breeds success.
Want to experience Flow?
To get in the zone, you have to get out of your zone. Statistically speaking a large majority of people live dangerous sedentary lifestyles leading to negative longterm effects on the body. Sitting all day in the repetitive endless cycle of the dreaded rat race, constantly consuming cheap and convenient fast food as an unfulfilling luxury, going home to lay down in preparation for another monotonous day of the same routine. This common lifestyle leads to negative effects on your body tend to affect the brain as well. If you want to experience flow, you need to start living life.
An active person’s brain operates far differently than that of the inactive. If you’re already active within your life, then you are lightyears ahead of those who are inactive, but the inactive can quickly catch up ― remember, get out of your zone if you want to get into the zone.
Shake Things Up:
What are you passionate about? What provides you the simple pleasures of life? You may have a few answers for those questions but life is not over, it’s just begun. The answers you can provide are for what you’ve already done in the past, try something new, focus on creating a new future. Overcome a fear, set a goal and complete it, or even just disconnect from technology and be alone with you and your thoughts.
Change Your Surrounding:
Your environment is where you are comfortable, get out of there. Heighten your social experience by trying lunch, dinner, or a bar in a different part of town. Social interaction can lead to new opportunities, to new adventures – new experiences in life are the key to unlocking your full potential.
Make sure it’s 100%:
The effort you put into a project, no matter how large or insignificant, make sure and find joy in giving it 100% effort. Be 100% satisfied with a job well done. This appreciation for the attention needed on what was once considered insignificant will greatly change the quality of whatever goal it is that you most desire.
Create a Morning Ritual:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and so is adopting a morning ritual. How you rise can determine the outcome of very different paths in life. Do you wake up and begin scrolling through social networks on your phone or are you sticking to a routine that helps to jumpstart your day? However you craft your routine, just promise to stick to it.
Especially for those who are anxious and stressed, learn to meditate. Adding clarity to your thoughts and demolishing mental blocks will help to increase chances of experiencing flow. If you do not know how to meditate, there are plenty of resources online to help but as previously mentioned, disconnect from your smartphone and be alone with your own thoughts. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.
“Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
In the grand scheme of life, everything has a reciprocal effect. If your energy is focused on the negatives of life, you will surround yourself with negativity. By focusing on the positives, you begin to surround yourself with positivity.
Focusing all of your energy towards a positive lifestyle will help you to achieve optimal performance. And when you begin to make these changes, that is when you will have the chance to experience flow.