The one thing most of us seek is happiness, but what if there were something even greater? What if there was a mental state beyond and above happiness that transcended time and placed you perfectly in the present moment. That’s flow.
Flow is the term Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi created to define a mental state humans achieve when fully immersed in an activity. When it comes to achieving this mental state, here are 4 actionable steps you can take:
1. Find something physical – While you can achieve a flow state from behind a computer chair, it’s far easier to do so when performing a physical task. By moving and being in your body, you can free your mind to be more present and focused on the task at hand. It isn’t required to find a physical practice, but it will induce a flow state more readily than other practices. Even playing the piano or violin is physical as the instrument is being manipulated by you.
2. Do something you are good at – Have you played a sport your entire life? You can probably enter a flow state with an activity you already have skills in. A sport or some type of physically demanding practice that you have experience with might be better for flow states as the task is doable. For someone new to a sport, there is too much analytical learning to enter flow often.
3. Meditate outside of flow state activities – Having a mental practice to shut down your brain and turn off the analytical side will help you achieve a flow state more readily. This practice will quiet your mind so that you can use the same skill while you are working on an activity that will induce flow.
4. Don’t make flow an objective – If you go through your activity thinking “when will I hit flow?”, there is a good chance you never will! Just recognize that flow can happen with your given activity and practice. Over time you’ll hit flow more and more often without realizing it. Trying to force a flow state (or anything in life) will just lead to less success.
Now that you have these 4 steps to better achieve flow, try in your daily life to move beyond happiness. It will lead to a better and more fulfilling lifestyle.