Over the last decade, there has been a growing interest in what is referred to as ‘flow’. Prior to the latest neuroscience research, flow was mysterious and seemed like a periodic gift from the gods. However, what we have discovered is flow is the birthright of everyone and core part of human experience.
Have you ever become so immersed in something you lost track of your surroundings and time? This is part of a flow state. Maybe, you were having an amazing conversation with someone that was so enjoyable hours seemed like minutes. Again, this is a flow like experience.
Effortlessly 5X Your Productivity
A major part of the interest in flow is how it relates to peak performance. Everyone from action-sport athletes to CEO’s now recognize the importance of flow to achieve your ultimate potential. The McKinsey group, which performs business research, finds executives are 5x’s more productive in flow. And if you’ve ever watched the X Games, you have witnessed performances that appeared super-human, because they are.
Executives are 5x's more productive when they're in a flow state.
If any of this interests, or excites you, it begs the question, “How do I access flow?” Studies have shown various flow triggers and actions you can take to begin experiencing more flow in your life. The sweet spot for encountering flow is the intersection of high challenge and high skills. In addition, the activity needs to have some level of intrinsic reward to it. This is when a pursuit is enjoyable for its own sake, not just to achieve an external outcome.
“Mindfulness meditation, can increase your ability to focus and find flow with greater frequency.”
The Critical Balance Between Rewarding and Challenging
If the interest you are focused on is not sufficiently intrinsically rewarding, it is unlikely you will put in the time and effort it takes to develop a high enough level of skill. Furthermore, if the activity is not challenging enough, you will become bored or disinterested. Contrastingly, if the challenge level is high and your skill level low, it will result in anxiety and disallow you to enter a flow state.
The key is to pursue something that offers intrinsic reward and consistently challenge yourself to go just beyond your current skill level. This sweet spot is what is referred to as the ‘flow channel’. Even though flow heightens awareness to an extreme level, a sufficient level of focus is required to induce flow. This is where engaging in consistent activities, such as mindfulness meditation, can increase your ability to focus and find flow with greater frequency.
Quick Actions to Achieve a Flow State
Here are a few steps to start practicing consistently to begin experiencing more flow in your life:
- Find an activity you enjoy doing.
- Set clear intentions and develop goals for increasing your skills.
- Immerse yourself fully in the activity; eliminate all distractions.
- Learn to truly focus; develop sensory anchors (achieve deep embodiment).