Flow for life - how to experience flow every day
Flow comes from within you not from outside of you, so to
experience flow throughout your life it is simply a matter of
identifying how you get into flow and practising how to trigger
the flow state more often. This is good so far as it goes, but
this is still just switching into flow for the moment - the
question is whether there is anything more than
Just as in writing this text I could suffer from writer’s
cramp, so others can suffer blockages that prevent them from
being in flow. Interestingly, performers who suffer from stage
fright describe symptoms such as tight stomach, dry mouth and
sweaty palms - which just so happen to be the exact same
symptoms described by performers who are getting ready to go on
stage and perform at their peak! Getting these symptoms tells
them that they have the nervous energy needed to perform at
their best - that they are in the zone - in flow.
It is interesting that it is our interpretation of events
that puts us either in a state of optimal performance or a
gibbering wreck, shaking and feeling sick!
It is the ability to channel our stress and harness that
energy towards our purpose that can put us into flow even under
pressure. Staying in flow under times of stress is the path to
consistent peak performance over a period of time. But how to
achieve this nirvana?
Well, instead of relying on techniques to trigger the flow
state, it is possible to alter things in your life in order to
trigger the flow state automatically - in fact more exciting
than this is to live in flow, to be in flow, to exist in flow.
Not to just experience flow from time to time, but to live
Finding a purpose
One of the key things to do is to find a purpose to your
Most people who experience flow describe it as happening
when they are completely immersed in doing the thing that they
love best. This begs the question how to get completely
immersed - well this will almost come almost automatically if
you are working on something that you love. So therefore the
question is how to find something that you love?
Unfortunately here the argument can become a bit circular -
the things that we love are typically the things that put us
into flow! In fact we might love them primarily because they
put us into flow. We could go round and round in circles
The way through this I think is to notice when we engage in
flow and identify the activities that trigger it and what it is
about those different activities that might indicate the other
sorts of things that we could do which we would probably
therefore love. This will also indicate what we are uniquely
able to do - what our purpose is.
This involves living a life of growth - of discovering more
and more what we are good at, what energises us, what we
uniquely enjoy doing and gain fulfilment from.
Being more yourself
Being more yourself and living a life of growth is one
thing that is very likely to put you in a state of flow most of
the time. Growth however means going to the edge of your
comfort zone - not something that most of us think of as
Research shows that putting yourself at the edge of your
comfort zone is likely to put you into a state of flow. What
this means is that your ability to do something is matched
evenly with the challenge of the task, so there is enough to
keep you engaged and challenged whilst at the same time there
is still a confidence in your ability to do the task well. Or
even more simply there is a belief that you can do it. A strong
self-belief about your ability to do the task built on your
However to get this experience one has to extend out of the
comfort zone from time to time in order to learn something new.
It is unlikely that you will be in the flow state then as you
have no belief that you can do this something new. However this
constant stretching out of your comfort zone to learn something
new and then retreating back into your now expanded comfort
zone allows you to operate effortlessly.
Just imagine combining the right level of challenge matched
with your level of ability, to do something that you love which
is also in line with your purpose! WOW you are really going to
You will have the benefits of feeling that you are in a peak
state, being highly effective, being highly efficient, doing
something pleasurable and enjoyable for its own sake, doing
something meaningful, achieving something significant and
moving towards your life’s purpose - all at the same time. Now
that is a life worth living!