Experiencing More Flow on a Daily Basis
Can you remember the last time you felt so immersed in an activity that time seemed to fly by, and you weren’t even aware of yourself or the outside world?
This experience is what the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi originally termed a flow state, and he went as far as to describe flow states as being the key to happiness.
According to researchers, regularly spending time in flow states can be extremely beneficial for individual wellbeing. It can help people to achieve a renewed sense of enthusiasm and optimism, it can interrupt obsessive negative thinking, it can promote positive emotions and a sense of oneness, and more.
But what sorts of things can you actually do on an everyday basis in order to reliably ensure that you spend a significant amount of your time in flow, so that you are able to reap the benefits, and to experience the higher and more magical kind of life that regularly being in flow seems to promote?
Here are a few tips for experiencing more flow on a daily basis.
Aim to immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing, with as few distractions as possible
Here is one of the most important things to be aware of and to keep in mind with regards to flow: it is simply impossible to be in a state of flow, or at the very least to remain in a state of flow for more than a minute or two, if you are not completely focused on the activity you are engaging with.
Today, flow states seem in many cases to be quite dramatically under attack by the increasing fragmentation of our attention spans, largely as a result of the ever-greater number of highly stimulating and alluring distractions that confront us all throughout the day.
If you’re trying to enter into a flow state while working on a particular project, but keep shifting your attention away from the project to check on your emails or something similar, you are by no means likely to experience the benefits you are after.
To enter into flow states more regularly and more reliably, aim to immerse yourself in whatever it is you are doing, to the best of your ability, as with as few distractions as you can possibly manage.
Nurture your natural sense of curiosity and interest
Entering into flow states appears to require finding something interesting and engaging in whatever it is you are doing. If you’re not able to find something engaging in the task you are working on then — obviously — it’s not going to “engage” you and absorb your attention, which is necessary for entering into a state of flow.
The flip side of this equation is that the more you can nurture your natural sense of curiosity and interest in all sorts of different things, over the course of everyday life, the better the chances are that you will be able to regularly enter into states of slow throughout the day, and maybe even virtually irrespective of what you are doing.
Even something like noticing Private Plates that people have on their cars can be a source of real interest and engagement.
Some people, for example, find everyday household chores like washing the dishes or hanging up the laundry to be engaging enough to lead to a state of flow.
Take up practises that help you to be more mindful and present, and less wrapped up in your own thoughts
The most all-encompassing and frustrating kinds of distractions that can drag us away from flow states, are often just our own thoughts.
After all, haven’t we all found ourselves in situations where we were really trying to get into a task or activity — or even to do something as straightforward as going to sleep — only to have our own internal dialogue completely sidetracking us at every step along the way?
While mindfulness and flow are not the same experience, there’s a good chance that taking up mindfulness-promoting practises — such as meditation — that can help you to be more present and less wrapped up in your thoughts, and also more resilient against stress and distraction, will help you to more easily enter into states of flow throughout the day.
Maintain consistent and beneficial daily routines
It may be significantly easier to enter into flow states on a regular basis when you have consistent and beneficial daily routines to create harmony and give structure to your life.
The less harmonious things are, and the more haphazard they are, the higher the likelihood is that you will struggle to “go with the flow” in a meaningful and uplifting way on a day-to-day basis.
On the other hand, if you have a well-established routine, the situation can be very different.
It’s worth pointing out that even Zen Buddhist monks follow very regular routines each day.