It’s very easy to get caught up in all the things that we ‘should do’. We ‘should’ eat healthy food, move and exercise regularly, do our rehab or prehab work, read books and meditate all so we can become healthier, fitter, smarter and less stressed sometime in the future!
Of course these are all wonderful goals to have and great strategies to achieve them - however the most powerful experiences actually tend to come when we tune into doing an activity, not as a means to an end, but as an end in itself.
This is where we can find the 'flow' in the activity and actually deeply enjoy it - any benefits we find in the future are essentially just a happy side-effect. It’s a simple shift in mindset and intention but it can make all the difference when it comes to the sustainability and the value of the activity in our life!
Being in 'flow' is essentially a state of mind where we are fully focused in the present moment, feeling and performing our best - in other words, an optimal experience! So it almost goes without saying that people who spend the most time in flow are statistically the happiest people in the world - regardless of external factors like wealth/status/power etc. (based on the research of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who literally wrote the book on Flow). People in flow have also been shown to reach up to 500% increases in productivity!
We can find flow through any number of activities - art, music, meditation, sports, deep conversation, cooking/eating and meaningful work can all be flow-inducing! I personally find a lot of flow through playing with movement, especially balancing on things and juggling things - with both hands and feet. Part of the reason I am so passionate about these kinds of activities is because of how they affect neuroplasticity (or the adaptability of the brain). Learning and practicing movement skills that involve high levels of focus and especially activation of the balance system actually make us better at learning everything else (stay tuned for a full blog on this concept).
Regardless of what activity you're doing, some major keys to achieving a flow state are:
- Some degree of meaning and passion for the activity
- A good balance of challenge/risk and capability (not too easy and not too hard - the 'Goldilocks' zone of difficulty)
- Full focus in the moment on the task at hand (balance training and meditation help improve this ability)
So rather than getting caught up in all of the things you 'should' or 'need' to do, focus on finding the flow in the skills and activities that are both challenging and meaningful to you. You'll have a much easier time sticking to these in the long term and you'll find more health and happiness will be the inevitable result!
Some of my favourite tools to get into a flow state are:
- Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- Playing with Movement by Todd Hargrove
- TFC Audio Project: Down Under - 1Rope To Find Your Flow