Today, we’re talking about what makes your life worth living and how to consciously bring more of that feeling into your daily life.
Now, we invite you to think about a moment in your life where you were so absorbed in what you were doing, the time flew by and you were completely lost in that activity. You felt you were right to where, when, and how you were supposed to be.
Do you remember how that felt? How anything else seemed to have stopped existing? How you didn’t have any problems or worries?
Well, in psychology this is called flow. At that moment, that moment where time melted away and you were absorbed in the task at hand, you were in the flow state.
Flow is actually a term coined by the Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In his own words —
“Flow is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, just for the sheer sake of doing it.”
Now, if you have ever heard someone say “they were in the zone”, well, flow state is precisely what they’re talking about. The beauty of flow is the fact that it can be induced by any activity. It’s not like there is a predetermined list of activities that only apply.
Csikszentmihalyi’s studies led him to conclude that happiness is an internal state of being, not an external one.
His popular 1990 book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” is based on the premise that happiness levels can be shifted by introducing more flow. So what do we need to know about flow at a practical level, and can we really create the proper environment for us to experience flow?
Well, the short answer is yes, we really can, and we’re here to provide you with the core essentials to do it. So there are actually four pillars of flow.
The first one, of course, is the focus. We’re talking about a concentration so intense there’s no attention left over for anything else. So this means no distractions and definitely no multitasking.
You can create the conditions for focus to happen if you, for example, close the tabs on your browser, set your phone on DND mode, and use some noise-canceling headphones, and then take a minute and start with a focus exercise. It could be anything you prefer. It can be a guided meditation, listening to a song, or taking a 5-minute walk.
You could call this exercise you are warm-up for focus and flow. As human beings, our brains are built to function at maximum capacity and efficiency when we only do one thing at a time. This is an extremely important one because in the world of smartphones and distractions, it’s no easy task to shut down all outside distractions and just focus on one thing.
It takes intentional action and a bit of willpower to do so, but believe us, uninterrupted blocks of time are pure gold for both your state of happiness and your productivity.
Now, Csikszentmihalyi says that in inflow there is no scrutiny, so you basically have to feel free to express yourself, and that means allowing space for mistakes to happen and doing things just for the sake of doing them without putting pressure on yourself.
For a while, just trust what you can do and let go. For example, you could set a permission timer, give yourself permission to work without judgment or expectations for thirty minutes to one hour, and let things flow and allow yourself to do what you have to do, no strings attached.
So for example, you could write that article you were trying to complete. Yes, the one you are struggling to start because you simply didn’t know how?
Just do it with zero structure. Just get the words on the page, write whatever comes to your mind about that certain topic, or draw for the sake of drawing, or work on that Excel without expecting it to be perfect.
And this brings us to the third pillar of flow, which is feedback.
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What does feedback look like in an activity?
You know, in the wild, if an animal is trying to do something like jump and they failed to hit their target, well, they’ll most probably receive instant feedback from the body. They might have fallen and that will hurt or they might be back on the ground instead of in that tree they were aiming for.
Either way, they know that moment of awareness that something went wrong, it comes immediately. But how does this work for humans? And most importantly, how does it work in more abstract activities?
A tennis player’s goal is to hit the ball and send it to the other side of the court more times than their opponent. Every time they hit the ball and send it to the other side of the court, they know that they’re doing a good job toward that goal.
A mountain climber school is to reach the top of the mountain without falling. Hour after hour of not falling gives them feedback about how well they’re performing, but on the other hand, submitting a business proposal that you worked on for weeks won’t immediately let you know how you did.
In this case, Feedback is not dependent on only yourself anymore. In this case, feedback can come from other people and that delays it leaving us wondering how we’ve done until the other person finally responds.
And the key here is to not stress over the result until you have definitive feedback. Don’t stress until you know you have a reason to stress. Do your absolute best not to imagine what they might say, how many mistakes you might have made, or how you could have reformulated one particular phrase.
Be content with your work and look at the feedback as a form of learning instead of a form of punishment.
Readers, feedback is about the small wins and progress. It doesn’t matter if you made some mistakes, it matters how you make progress using the feedback received from those mistakes.
Learn to get your pleasure from the process, not the end result.
“Progress over perfection!”
Read also: Habits to make you richer (must read)
4. 4% Challenge
Now, the fourth pillar is a 4% challenge. If an activity is below your skill level, you’ll simply get bored. If it’s a way above your skill level, you’ll get frustrated. This pillar is the motivational part of flow, and it’s a very important one.
There is a principle called “the Goldilocks rule” that states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right at the edge of their current abilities.
Not too hard, not too easy, just right. The Goldilocks zone of difficulty, but remember, the flow doesn’t always have to be about something productive in a work sense, it could also be something just purely joyful.
After all, all working, no fun is no way to live.
CONTRIBUTED BY Entrepreneuria
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