Flow for life – how to experience flow every day

Flow comes from within you not from outside of you, so to experience flow throughout your life it is simply a matter of identifying how you get into flow and practising how to trigger the flow state more often. This is good so far as it goes, but this is still just switching into flow for the moment – the question is whether there is anything more than this.

Just as in writing this text I could suffer from writer’s cramp, so others can suffer blockages that prevent them from being in flow. Interestingly, performers who suffer from stage fright describe symptoms such as tight stomach, dry mouth and sweaty palms – which just so happen to be the exact same symptoms described by performers who are getting ready to go on stage and perform at their peak! Getting these symptoms tells them that they have the nervous energy needed to perform at their best – that they are in the zone – in flow.

It is interesting that it is our interpretation of events that puts us either in a state of optimal performance or a gibbering wreck, shaking and feeling sick!

It is the ability to channel our stress and harness that energy towards our purpose that can put us into flow even under pressure. Staying in flow under times of stress is the path to consistent peak performance over a period of time. But how to achieve this nirvana?

Well, instead of relying on techniques to trigger the flow state, it is possible to alter things in your life in order to trigger the flow state automatically – in fact more exciting than this is to live in flow, to be in flow, to exist in flow. Not to just experience flow from time to time, but to live there.

Finding a purpose

One of the key things to do is to find a purpose to your life.

Most people who experience flow describe it as happening when they are completely immersed in doing the thing that they love best. This begs the question how to get completely immersed – well this will almost come almost automatically if you are working on something that you love. So therefore the question is how to find something that you love?

Unfortunately here the argument can become a bit circular – the things that we love are typically the things that put us into flow! In fact we might love them primarily because they put us into flow. We could go round and round in circles here!

The way through this I think is to notice when we engage in flow and identify the activities that trigger it and what it is about those different activities that might indicate the other sorts of things that we could do which we would probably therefore love. This will also indicate what we are uniquely able to do – what our purpose is.

This involves living a life of growth – of discovering more and more what we are good at, what energises us, what we uniquely enjoy doing and gain fulfilment from.

Being more yourself

Being more yourself and living a life of growth is one thing that is very likely to put you in a state of flow most of the time. Growth however means going to the edge of your comfort zone – not something that most of us think of as comfortable.

Research shows that putting yourself at the edge of your comfort zone is likely to put you into a state of flow. What this means is that your ability to do something is matched evenly with the challenge of the task, so there is enough to keep you engaged and challenged whilst at the same time there is still a confidence in your ability to do the task well. Or even more simply there is a belief that you can do it. A strong self-belief about your ability to do the task built on your previous experience.

However to get this experience one has to extend out of the comfort zone from time to time in order to learn something new. It is unlikely that you will be in the flow state then as you have no belief that you can do this something new. However this constant stretching out of your comfort zone to learn something new and then retreating back into your now expanded comfort zone allows you to operate effortlessly.

Just imagine combining the right level of challenge matched with your level of ability, to do something that you love which is also in line with your purpose! WOW you are really going to be motoring!

You will have the benefits of feeling that you are in a peak state, being highly effective, being highly efficient, doing something pleasurable and enjoyable for its own sake, doing something meaningful, achieving something significant and moving towards your life’s purpose – all at the same time. Now that is a life worth living!