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6 Steps To Tap Into Your ‘Flow’

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tap into your flow to be happy and successful

Have you ever been so focused and engaged in a task that it feels like an out of body experience? You’ve got the midas touch- everything you do is done with ease, you completely lose track of time, no such thing as hunger or weariness, your ego just disappears from consciousness.

It’s called ‘flow.’

Athletes break records when they are in flow, musicians write hit songs because of flow, entrepreneurs seal deals when possessed by flow.

When it comes to understanding this incredible state that is available to all humans, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the expert credited with identifying this incredible peak experience he refers to as flow. Your nervous system is only capable of processing about 110 bits of information per second, having a conversation with one person takes about 60 bits per second- the reason you struggle to listen to two people at the same time. When you enter into a state of flow however, every bit of your processing power is directed to the task. You become blissfully possessed by the work that you are doing.

Everything else disappears.

The key to human happiness and success, according to Mihaly, is the ability to tap into your state of flow.

 

Here are the 6 steps to tap into your flow:

 

1. Set the stage

Whatever task or work you are engaged in, create the optimum environment for flow to happen with an organised and tidy area free from ANY distractions. Some of the world’s greatest writers have a special room or space where they will only engage in writing- that becomes the place they enter into their flow state.

Where is your flow space? It could be in your attic, basement, or the quiet corner of your favourite coffee shop.

 

2. Intrinsic Motivation

Flow happens when what you are doing becomes worth it for its own sake. You need to value and enjoy your work ultimately and above anyone else; regardless of how others may profit or be affected from what you do.

Here is a great flow question: if you never received any recognition for what you’re doing, would you still love doing it?

 

3. A Trigger

This is where physiology meets psychology; a physical trigger to set off an emotional peak state. Tony Robbins is known for jumping up and down on an exercise trampoline and clapping his hands before walking out to a conference. A great technique is to squeeze your middle finger and thumb together and then think of an ecstatic flow experience in the past- a previous victory, accomplishment, or pinch-yourself moment. Then release and bring your mind back to an everyday mundane experience. Practicing stepping in and out of a heightened state.

From now on, every time you squeeze your fingers together your mind will immediate be taken to a flow experience.

 

4. No Destination

Once you have your mind primed and in flow, engage in the task at hand. A crucial key for being in flow is to cast away any expectations. Flow cannot be put into a box. Don’t cut flow off by only getting a certain amount of work done, and don’t try and force flow by continuing to engage when the state is over.

 

5. Too Deep, Too Shallow

Flow is the perfect balance between skill and challenge. If your skill level is too high for the task, then you don’t have enough of a challenge to be in flow. You fall into a state of “comfort.”  On the other hand, if the challenge is too high, you go into a state of “arousal.” This leads to frustration because you don’t have the skill to accomplish your task.

Whatever work you engage in, make sure that you are not over-qualified, nor under-qualified. The challenge should be just a little beyond your skill- to stretch you, but not break you!

 

6. Time-Out

The stages of getting into flow can be broken down into: Struggle – Relaxation – Flow – Consolidation. The final stage of consolidation is crucial for your brain to absorb and remember the new skills it was able to learn. The temptation will always be to chase after that next flow state. But you need to take a break and let your nervous system recover from the immersed experience.

Lastly, flow states must be incorporated in a holistic manner. You do not want to become dependant on a flow state to function regularly. Flow addiction can be very detrimental. This is what turns a person into an unhealthy workaholic- continually chasing the flow experience. Be engaged in a number of different creative tasks. This will allow you to enjoy the flow state without becoming dependant upon a single one that dominates your life.

 

The perfect moment picture quote

A refugee from Vietnam, raised in Australia, with a BA from Texas, Thai writes for many publications including The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, and Addicted2Success. A professional chef, international kickboxer, and spiritual teacher, Thai is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves. Signup for his free weekly Infographics at TheUtopianLife.com | Connect @ThaiWins | On Facebook 

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Marsha

    Jun 20, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I like some of these strategies and will practice them. Thanks!

  2. Sid

    Mar 30, 2014 at 3:02 am

    One of the biggest problems in life was not living in the moment. I always had thought of what I’d do later.. Whether it came to a definite goal or pursuing a desire.. But when the time came to execute i never did.. Instead I rationalized that I’d do it later by making another plan.. I dint realise i wasn’t living in the moment! This opened my eyes

    • Thai Nguyen

      Apr 10, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Very true Sid. Flow is much being being immersed in the moment. All the best to you.

  3. Thai Nguyen

    Mar 27, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks Joel, I’ll have to check out Pirsig’s work- thanks for the referral. Definitely, as writers, being in flow is crucial!! All the best to you mate.

  4. Joel

    Mar 19, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Great post Thai. Much of what you’re saying resonates with Pirsig’s idea of the pursuit of quality in ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’, a fantastic book. As a writer, I find entering this mental state helps enormously with productivity, and most of all, creativity. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  5. Thai Nguyen

    Mar 16, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks Hristiqn,

    There really isn’t much that can stand in the way of passion, absolutely agree. Wishing you all the best mate.

  6. Thai Nguyen

    Mar 16, 2014 at 7:06 am

    There is definitely a mix of early birds and night owls when it comes to flow! Part of the fun is figuring it out.

  7. Jeremy

    Mar 14, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    I think I tend to get this flow late into the night… I can work from midnight until 8 in the morning and I’ll be very pumped up and inspired while at work. Unfortunately it’s good for my health I think.

  8. Thai Nguyen

    Mar 14, 2014 at 6:12 am

    Hi Naomi,

    Definitely some interesting debates going on about multi-tasking. You are right that there comes a point when it does get out of control. We all need that reminder reassess and refocus.

    All the best,

    Thai.

  9. Naomi@business start ups

    Mar 12, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Hi Thai,

    I’m a multi-tasking queen. I’ve spend my life juggling several tasks at once and persistently attempted to achieve the art of NOT just getting many tasks done at once – But getting them done well.

    As my task list grows I’m starting to realize sometimes I need to be in the moment and submerged within one single activity. Your post is a great reminder for me.

    Thanks, Naomi

  10. JALAL KHAN

    Mar 12, 2014 at 2:56 am

    I learn everyday something new, which are worth implementing in the work place. Keep this good work going. Any time you are coming to Chicago side,please do inform us.

    • Thai Nguyen

      Mar 12, 2014 at 4:53 am

      Learning something new everyday is a great habit! Thanks Jalal!

  11. Emily Filloramo

    Mar 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Thai,

    Great reminders about the points of this groundbreaking book.

    I have find flow an “easier” state to get into since I have found my life’s calling. When I finally realized what the Universe has put me on this earth for, then it’s an obligation to do what I need to do to make a difference. This motivation helps me to tackle the challenging things I need to do to take my life to the next level.

    • Thai Nguyen

      Mar 12, 2014 at 4:52 am

      Well said Emily. I think it is very much a two-way street- finding your flow can help you understand your calling, and knowing your life’s calling makes it easier to find your flow. Wishing you all the best!

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