Flow states are unique moments in time where you’re hurled into a peak emotional state, the concerns of the world fade away —and you’re alive and engaged like never before.
Make no mistake:
Your ability to manufacture flow states in your life leads to a deep sense of meaning, purpose and fulfillment.
Stripped away from the ego’s endless chatter —you are here.
But not only are you here, you’re also performing at a level where you feel unstoppable.
According to Steven Kotler who has brought flow into the mainstream during the last decade —flow can increase motivation by 500% and creativity by 430%.
Uh, pour me a double, please.
Now, ask yourself:
What would your life look and feel like if you tapped into more flow?
Don’t let the grandiosity of this state overwhelm you; flow is found on a cascading spectrum.
- You can feel flow walking your dog in the morning as the morning Sun rises.
- You can feel flow in Minute 27 of the Ashtanga yoga practice where body and spirit coalesce.
- You can feel flow in the middle of the night finishing a term paper when all of the sudden the idea strikes.
In other words:
Flow is about feeling more than duration or intensity.
So, how do you manufacture flow states?
Pour yourself into an activity.
Whether a morning walk, the needle-moving work —set the intention and curate your environment for deep engagement.
Focus like your life depends on it.
Flow follows focus as Kotler says, and focus is a skill like any other —practice immersing yourself and spending more time focused on one thing.
Overcome the initial barriers of resistance.
During the pursuit of flow, there is initial resistance —whether the first few minutes of a trail run or writing session, these become catalysts.
Dose challenge, risk and danger.
A key component of flow is some degree of challenge, risk or even danger —do three more reps during your workout or explore a new place during your hike.
Identify your unique flow conditions.
We all have a few places that already hurl us into flow: the yoga mat, nature, dance.
Identify the conditions and environments that already create flow and find ways to maximize your exposure to them.
Tap into the presence of surrender.
As much as you are creating this state, you’re allowing. Part of flow, oddly enough, is letting go of trying to create it.
Here are some examples of manufacturing flow:
- During your morning workout, commit to doubling your intensity until you feel you’re having trouble breathing.
- As you work, set a 45-minute timer and put the smartphone in the drawer, making yourself unavailable.
- Before a conversation, commit to fully listening to the person you’re about to spend time with.
Last, here’s what I’ve experienced as I’m able to manufacture flow nearly every day:
The more you increase your exposure to flow —the easier it is to get back there.
Personally, an intense trail hike in nature, an intense focused writing sprint or deep conversation on the podcast —all create flow.
It takes one flow state experience to radically shift our days, weeks or months.
What’s your number one flow trigger?