I think anybody who has worked really hard at anything is familiar with the flow state. It’s a special feeling when everything is clicking and you’re achieving something great, most likely something you haven’t before. I really recommend reading The Rise of Superman. It’s all about mostly extreme sports athletes and how they tap into flow to drastically increase their level of improvement. Although this state can seem like a random happening, I actually believe it’s pretty easy to tap into on a normal basis if you know how.
For me it takes two things:
1. An appropriate challenge - this is something that feels just one bit harder than what you’ve done before. Maybe it’s faster, maybe it’s longer. There’s lots of ways to increase challenge. I think it means having some nerves because you’re not sure if you can accomplish it or not, but the nerves are rooted in excitement. If they’re rooted in fear of failure, then the focus will be on the negative. It’s just exercise, not your identity.
2. Total presence - the only focus is on what you’re doing. No distractions, no disassociated thoughts on conversation. This is the part that takes discipline and choice. You have to choose to say no to distractions and accept that you’re totally in the moment you’re in.
With these two things, I find I can achieve a flow state quite often, and when I do, I feel like I break new ground and find a new capacity. It also creates tons of fulfillment and joy in whatever activity you’re choosing to apply it to.
- Jason West