Do you remember the last time you were in flow with life?
You may be aware of a time when you were totally immersed in your experience. When you applied yourself, it was effortless. There was fluid continuity and the ability to progress with ease. There was a conscious letting-be of the process… nothing else seemed to matter.
You were experiencing moments that you never want to forget, the ones so incredibly satisfying that they pleased all the senses.
You felt vitality. You were in flow.
The experts in positive psychology have discovered that we can actually cultivate experiences like this more often. But, how?
Let’s talk about a psychological concept called ‘flow’ state.
According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (cheek-sent-me-hi), flow is a state in which it feels like time does not exist. We are totally immersed in our experience coupled with feelings of spontaneous joy. It's an experience of energized focus, enjoyment in the process, and immersion in-the-moment.
Flow can be experienced in any activity; although, it is most likely to occur when a person is genuinely intrinsically motivated. This is motivation in which we are driven by internal reasons such as interest or enjoyment in an activity rather than for external rewards or external pressures.
Other ways of describing ‘flow’ include effortlessness of performance, fluid continuity, and the ability to progress with ease.
What’s important about finding ‘flow’?
Finding flow in our lives can have incredibly positive effects on our performance in life and our well-being. Incorporating more flow experiences regularly invites us to choose authentically, be more present, and experience life more fully. It’s also an important component of creativity.
6 simple ways to increase opportunities for flow in your life:
1 – Get to know YOU and what you’re passionate about. Ask yourself the powerful questions and discover what is really important to you. What do you love to do? What activities have meaning and heart for you? What do you value most in life?
2 – Be Autonomous in your Choices. ‘Let go’ of needing approval. Intrinsically motivated activities are those which you do because YOU enjoy them, not those activities done for approval from others. Let go of seeking approval and start doing more of what you love.
3 – Set Goals. Flow experiences involve clear set short-term goals. This helps you create a balance between opportunity and capacity. Goals also help to prioritize activities in your life that provide you with optimal challenge and enjoyment.
4 - Cultivate Mindfulness. Being mindful allows you to fully experience the activities you enjoy. Characteristics of mindfulness include present moment awareness and an attitude of open-mindedness, acceptance, and non-judgement. There are many ways to incorporate mindful presence into your daily routine. I suggest deep breathing, meditation, and/or yoga. Even, try being more present while doing your daily activities such as cooking, washing dishes, walking or driving.
5 – Embrace Change. Flow involves being able to let go of the past so you can allow yourself to be fully present to each moment as it arises.
6 – Integrate Flow into various aspects of your Life. Since flow can be experienced in any activity, create ways to experience flow in various life areas including career, contribution, family life, personal experiences, health-related activities, personal growth or education, hobbies and social interactions.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. How do you bring more flow into your life?
I hope this post has inspired you to make flow a priority in your life and given you some practical ways to do so.
If you have any practices to share, let us know in the comments below.