What is flow and why is everyone talking about it? This state of being, studied by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (no, I cannot pronounce his name either), is all about feeling “in the zone” when it comes to your daily activities.
The reason why flow is so profound is that it is closely linked with feelings of alignment, happiness, and fulfillment. We have recently been able to gather a lot of information about flow, and study this phenomenon using more rigorous research methods than before.
The interesting thing is that people are not necessarily getting happier, even though we are living longer and healthier lives. We have less and less time to focus on our inner thoughts with the prevalence of constant connection through things like social media and increasing work pressures. The unhappiness epidemic is a real thing. However, by changing the contents of your consciousness, you can literally trick yourself into feeling happy regardless. In flow states specifically, you are so concentrated on the present task that there is no time to compare yourself to social media influencers, or your friends’ seemingly perfect vacation to Bali posted all over Facebook. You are so focused, that sense of time itself is augmented, aka no space for FOMO.
If you are an entrepreneur or a creative, you may have felt this, even in small doses. You are so immersed in what you love doing and are optimally challenged in what you are achieving, that you will sense flow. Everything else seems to slip away and time becomes secondary. It is pretty spectacular when you think of it. I may come out of a flow state with raccoon eyes and a crazed look on my face, but internally, I feel on top of the world — I feel satisfied, accomplished, and HAPPY.
So how, then, can you facilitate a flow state at home? Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started.
1. When have you lost track of time before?
Losing track of time is a great indicator that you have entered a state of flow. I have always lost track of time when listening to music. Music can be a universal way of connecting with, and communicating with the world. One of my favourite flow states now is the one I get in when I put on a new album, or an old favourite and get all the chores done for the day. Think of the activities in which you lose yourself in. How can you incorporate these, more often, into your every day?
2. Build the space to enjoy flow.
Flow is only going to flow if you set aside the time to experience it fully. In our every day lives we have constant demands for our attention and time. Whether it is blinking notifications on your phone, e-mail pop-ups at work, or kids needing attention at home, it can feel impossible to disconnect. The key characteristics of flow include equal parts concentration and equal parts effortlessness. To enjoy this experience, you may have to consciously set yourself up for success by turning off some of the distractions. This may mean hiring a babysitter and getting out of your house for a few hours to work on a creative project. Or, perhaps you need to simply close the e-mail inbox for a few hours and block your calendar for that pitch deck you have been meaning to work on. Whatever it is, you will only truly enjoy flow once you’ve created the space for it.
3. Challenge yourself the right way.
We have a tendency to bite off more than we can chew, and this actually hinders our experience of flow. When we are anxious about what is next, we are no longer at that optimal level of consciousness with the present. The trick here is challenging yourself the right way. If something is too easy or mundane, once again, flow does not exist. Finding the balance between too challenging, and not challenging enough may be a Goldilocks problem, but hopefully that does not stop you from trying.
The positive outcome of trying could simply and enticingly be: more fun, interesting, and fulfilling lives where you are so engaged in the present that nothing else seems to matter. Why wouldn’t you want to experience this more often throughout your day?
How do you find flow?