You might have already heard of this thing called the “flow state” of mind.
It might seem like a technical subject that’s completely out of your grasp.
Well, we’re not going to get into a deep dive like that. But we are going to articulate what — in some senses — might feel like a very complex subject that, in actuality, is truly accessible and relatable.
So let’s break it down.
What is the “Flow State” of Mind?
Perhaps the simplest way to describe the “Flow State” is:
it’s what people enter when they are being completely immersed in the moment.
We particularly see this in musicians, artists, athletes when they are so focused on their tasks that it almost seems like they’re overcome with something.
So, let me ask you two things.
What motivates you? At the core of it all, we are motivated by this intense urge whether it’s by fear or love or the need to have things done. What are your guiding principles in everything you do and the choices you make?
Second, when do you experience a deep enjoyment and total involvement in something? When do you feel truly connected or in the zone?
When you’ve found your answer, then that’s the closest thing to understanding what “flow” really is.
It is those moments you feel so connected in what you do, where you are, or where you’re going that it feels like something is “working through you.”
Time moves both ways. There are flashes of rapid attention coursing through you. You are so immersed in it that you don’t notice mundane things like hunger or exhaustion.
You are simply in this state of bliss that it overshadows everything else. Stopping is just not an option.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, a leader in flow psychology, describes this moment as:
“being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
That is the “flow.”
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The Psychology Behind “Flow”
Flow can happen in different moments for different people. After all, we all have different areas of interests or passion. Some can experience flow in moments of creativity – writing, drawing, or painting. Others might experience flow while engaging in physical activities like sports or dance.
This intense state of mind can happen when you’re doing activities that you truly enjoy, things that you are quite skilled at.
Csíkszentmihályi sums it up simply as:
“the optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”
It’s that feeling of being in peak performance. You feel so ecstatic about what you’re doing that it’s almost as if there’s a higher purpose to it. Everything lse is mundane — even you.
These 10 factors can accompany the flow state:
- Having clear goals about things you want to achieve
- Intense concentration and focus
- Doing something that is intrinsically rewarding
- Losing the sense of self-consciousness
- Assuredness about your skills in the situation aligning with the task
- Analytically being able to judge and track your own progress
- A sense of control over the situation and its outcome
- Lack of awareness of basic physical needs
- Immersion and complete focus on the activity itself.
How to Enter the “Flow State” of Mind
Our brains are wired to focus. So much so that it takes a little bit of extra work for us to multi-task or two pay attention to two or multiple different things. In this sense, humans are limited.
But imagine if there’s a way to overcome that. This is where the flow state kicks in.
When we reach states of flow, we overcome that limitation.
So how can we achieve that flow state?
The formula is in the balance between the challenge of the task and the skill of the performer.
When both of those things are at their peak – that’s how we enter the flow state.
The truth is, we all experience flow state, albeit shortly. This is a place we go in and out of. Especially if you are someone who pursues passion, creativity, and skill.
The challenge is in expanding this flow state.
Now, I’m not saying that it is something you can permanently be at. That’s not possible. But you can make the most out of it.
You can use the flow state to achieve your goals. You can use it to achieve a higher sense of purpose. The “flow” state can help you be your absolute best.
Watch the video above to learn exactly how to be in the “flow.”
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