Flow is a state of mind. It emerges when your brainwaves are in the theta range linked with REM sleep. Many adults experience it when they meditate or daydream, and it’s predominant in young children.
People covet flow because it makes learning a cinch compared to usual. And they respond to whatever happens in the moment. (Often, we’re off worrying in another mental time zone). Flow’s also super-enjoyable and sometimes described as bliss.
You are dynamic when you flow. You recognize how to make headway as energy streams and your brainpower optimizes. It’s no wonder people want to experience it. Not only do we love life when we have a flow mindset, but we also soak up wisdom.
Flow’s easy, but getting there isn’t
Wouldn’t it be terrific to be in the zone at the drop of a hat? We might like to zip into that magical mindset that makes us happy and smart. But getting there isn’t as easy as you might imagine. Sometimes struggle thwarts us. And kick-starting flow isn’t simple.
According to psychology, it’s natural to find shifting into flow difficult. Struggle is part of the process, and entering the right state of mind isn’t a one-step route. Our lack of understanding about what it takes to flow adds frustration about how to get there.
How to enter a flow brain state
You might assume it should be a doddle to shift into flow, but you can’t get straight into the zone. You move there by degrees, and your struggle signals you’re on the way. Nonetheless, you may quit when you meet a wall between you and your desired mindset.
Recognize the process isn’t a skip through a poppy field, and you can embrace difficulty.
You may imagine initiating flow ought to be easy because flow itself is effortless. Like a river streams with ease, so do you when you’re in a flow state. If you were a river, though, you’d still have to begin somewhere. You’d stem from another place and trickle before you could pour. Entering a flow state is similar.
4 Steps to flow
Approach a hard challenge, or an undemanding job, and you won’t find flow. Flow arises when you stretch your capability but don’t choose a task too far beyond your ability. So, find a happy medium.
Release happens when you surrender to the experience and go with it. You release the struggle and respond to each moment as it unfurls.
Now you’re in the part of the flow state you recognize. You’re stretching your boundaries and reaching your potential, and you may lose track of time.
It takes effort to be in a state of flow, and a period of recovery is necessary afterward. Imagine, for instance, you have a terrific conversation with a good friend. Communicating takes up all your attention and insights stream.
Later, though, you feel tired. Just as running in a race uses energy, so does flowing, and afterward, you need to rest.
Have you noticed you lose yourself in some activities so much you stop thinking of other things? They don’t always involve flow, though. Sometimes, we seek a flow state and think we’ve found it. But something’s amiss. That’s fake flow.
Fake flow can occur when you watch a movie or surf the Internet, for instance. You’re busy and focused. But there’s no challenge involved. Your mindset has nothing to do with pushing to greater potential. You mistake the act of doing something easy for enjoyment.
How to achieve more flow states
1. Reduce distractions
Interruptions, like your phone ringing or shifting tasks, can disturb your progress. Cut disturbing elements in your environment and save unrelated tasks for later.
2. Care about what you do
You won’t find flow when you tackle tasks you dislike. So, if you hate gardening, it will feel like a chore to plant seeds. If you enjoy it though, and love your garden, you may enter a flow state.
3. Your task must stretch you, but not too far
Push a little further than you’ve gone before, so tasks take you out of your comfort zone. But don’t reach for impossible heights. Aim to meet your destination in small, challenging steps.
Flow happens when you become one with your actions and unrelated thoughts melt. You stop worrying about problems and stream with the moment. And as you do so, you are at your best.
Luckily, you need not wait for flow to just happen. Put yourself in the position to enter a flow mindset often, and you will enjoy more bouts of it throughout the day.