5 Ingredients For Entering A Flow State―And How To Make “Work” Feel Like Play
Finding your passion, becoming fully immersed, ceasing the mind’s chatter, and relearning what it means to give your full attention.
Flow is a feeling worth designing your entire life around.
A Flow State is a feeling that emerges when you become fully immersed in whatever you’re doing. It arises when 5 essential characteristics combine and leaves you in a state of ecstasy and with an extreme sense of clarity. Your sense of time becomes distorted and you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the next.
Now, let's dive in.
#1: The activity must strike a balance between challenge and skills.
The activity should not be too easy or too difficult.
Ideally, the difficulty of the task should be slightly above your skill level in order to fully engage you and require you to perform at the height of your ability. This challenge will require a level of focus that causes the mind’s usual chatter to fade away, distractions to disappear, and a clear focus on your craft to emerge.
#2: You must have complete concentration and engagement on the task.
You must be singularly focused on the task to reach the deep level of engagement and concentration required to enter a Flow State.
It’s important to care about the task at hand and create or find an environment that allows you to solely focus on the activity. This may be a class, a spare room in your house, the gym, or whatever environment best suits your activity and allows for complete, uninterrupted focus.
#3: There should be clear goals and immediate feedback.
Your objective should be clear and the activity should have innate immediate feedback.
For example, exercise, sparring, building something with your hands, gardening, puzzling, scuba diving, painting, writing, pottering, making music, and other activities that have a defined set of parameters, a clear outcome, and rapid feedback loops are ideal for entering a Flow State.
#4: The experience must be intrinsically rewarding for you.
You should enjoy the activity simply for the sake of engaging in it.
Your mindset should be focused on the journey, the act of engaging in the task, not the destination. Find experiences that you would engage in just for the sake of the experience itself, with no expectation of any future benefit. It helps to have high curiosity and persistence, low ego, and a high willingness to perform the activity.
#5: There should be a sense of effortlessness and ease.
A key characteristic of Flow is effortless attention.
Think about a golfer stepping up to the ball, LeBron James driving the net, or Michael Phelps mid-butterfly. There is a sense of effortlessness and ease in their movements. This doesn’t mean they aren’t moving quickly or intensely, but they are completely relaxed and utterly focused. To achieve this, find an activity that you are already good at or are new to but learning with a deep sense of focus and feeling of ease.
I hope you find ways to spend more time in a Flow State.
Spending more of your time in a Flow State will improve the quality and enjoyability of your life.
Flow will help you discover a deeper sense of concentration and clarity than ever before and cultivate a chatter-free mind in which stress, worry, and self-doubt melt away. It will eliminate superficiality and generate positive emotion deep within, resulting in a lasting state of joy and fulfillment beyond happiness.
Now, go forth and find your Flow.
And, as always, please give me feedback. What did you like or dislike? What do you want more or less of? Other suggestions? Please let me know. Just respond to this email, leave a comment, or send me a Tweet @jackrossdixon.
Love it! I recently incorporated the flow state concept into my living in the moment article. I found a cool graphic that shows the perfect balance between challenge and skill - not sure if this will work, but here is the image: