I’m sitting here… ready to put words to concepts and ideas to help you live in a more sustainable and enjoyable way.
So, today I’ve decided to write about the balance between two very powerful states, two essential modes of existence, if you will… Let’s dive into it!
THE FLOW STATE
“Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person’s skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.”
– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
One state is the flow state. This is the creative state, where time flies by and we are “in the zone.”
This state is also called “the genius zone”.
This is where great producers, epic performers & legendary stuff happens.
But the thing is… this state is extremely energy costly. It’s sort of like playing with fire.
It’s an enormous power with the potential to create or destroy.
The flow state is also highly addictive, because it feels so good…
So, in short, this is what you’ll experience in a flow state:
1. Time warps.
You loose your apprehension of time. Time can seem to slow down or quicken.
2. Self vanishes.
This phenomena is called Transient hypo-frontality.
Transient meaning temporary. Hypo meaning a little & “frontality” meaning the pre frontal cortex becomes a bit disconnected.
So, in other words, we stop criticising ourselves & obsessing about what happened in the past and what’s going to happen in the future.
3. You think clearer.
Your brain is functioning on a higher level (you can become up to 250% more productive) + The wavelength of your brave waves changes from beta to alpha and even has the potential to spike into Gamma. (this is where the “aha-moments” live)
Can be due to the five chemicals that are released during a complete flow experience:
(what I mean by complete, is that, f.ex, when we play video games, we only get 2-3 of the 5 neurotransmitters that are released)
One more thing on the flow state before we get into the Flow Keys, is the fact that this flow state is synonymous with stress… If your heart rate is raised and stress hormones released, even if you might not feel that your “stressed” per se, it still takes a toll on your body the same way as negative stress. YOU STILL NEED TO RECOVER & REFUEL.
Keys to the Flow State:
1. Intense Focus on what your doing
2. Acting on Clear Goals
3. Immediate Feedback on performance
4. Rich Environment
5. Sharing Clear Goals
6. Engaged Communication
7. Deep & Engaged Listening
9. High Stake Situations
Potential Risks of the Flow State:
1. Building your self worth on being in flow
As I said, this is a powerful state… We feel in the zone and it’s often appreciated by others. Maybe we become a bit more witty, quick and playful when we are in this state… Perhaps we’re afraid of being perceived as “boring” or “not interesting”, not smart or dull… This is a dangerous pressure. We have to be able to enjoy life and feel worth even if we’re not “in the zone” or human peak experience all the time.
Flow is highly addictive. It feels really good to be there. It’s ok to be in flow often, but you must make sure that you get good nutrients in your body & enough rest, sleep, power naps & that you have the energy it takes.
3. Burn out.
The consequences we see most often as a result of trap 1+2, if we spend too much time in flow without the right amount of recovery & refuelling, we will eventually burn out… (as I said, it’s very costly in terms of energy)
So, this state is really powerful… and we have to make an effort in designing our lives so that we can balance it with the next state.
THE PEACEFUL STATE
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
– John Lubbock, The Use of Life
“Rest and be thankful.”
– William Wordsworth
This next state… is the place where we’re just here & now… We’re not producing anything, we’re not being productive, we’re just being…
This state is a key component to a maintaining & sustaining a good life.
When we realise what we’re made of, and when we wake up to our potential to grow and change, its easy to get all excited and think that you’re a superhuman with no limits… But the fact is that, we can’t go on and on forever without stopping…
This state is a bit difficult for many people I believe because there is some kind of shame connected to “not doing anything”…
We have great pride in being productive, effective and doing a lot’s of stuff, being a person of action… It’s all good, but we just can not ignore the fact that we need a fair amount of the peaceful state also.
Of course there has to be some kind of balance between being and doing…
I wouldn’t like to sit, isolated, at peace, somewhere, for the rest of my life, no matter how happy, enlightened and cool I felt… Flow is essential…
But when you’ve discovered what gets you into flow, first of all you should be very happy, because everyone doesn’t really find it so easily…
But when you’ve realised this power, you also have to realise that you need to refuel & restore your vital energy.
Responses & results from the peaceful state:
1. Your heart rate slows down.
You feel more peaceful & you’re more connected to whites happening around you.
2. You become more Empathetic
You become more aware & sensitive to what’s going on in other’s lives & how they feel.
3. Ultimately, Your Relationships Improve
It’s important to be someone of action, but if you’r not able just to sit down and be, you’ll stress people out (and yourself).
You have to find your own triggers and keys to this state, but here’s what I found works for me on my journey:
Keys to The Peaceful State:
2. A slow walk in nature
3. Being with someone who’s present
4. Taking a nap
5. Yin Yoga
6. Deep Breathing
7. Listening closely to my surroundings
Try some of them out. See hat works for you… Use it to come back with more power & energy for the flow state later…
What get’s you into the flow state?
What get’s you into the peace state?
What are your challenges?
I would love to know.
With love & respect,