How to think less and do more: Turning life into flow

Discussion in 'Health and Lifestyle' started by Lightfiend, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. Lightfiend

    Lightfiend Member

    Jun 17, 2009
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    How To Think Less And Do More: Turning Life Into Flow
    by Steven H.

    Have you ever seen a professional baseball player before a big world series game? There is an intensity in the air; the crowd is roaring, fans are begging for autographs, reporters are bombarding with questions, yet the player is calm and focused. When the pitcher first steps onto the mound, he shows no signs of being nervous – he is in the zone – there is just pure, collected attention on the task at hand and what needs to be done. This marks the character of a truly disciplined and skilled individual.

    Imagine a situation where this state would be beneficial to you. A state where you are completely absorbed in what you are doing, and there is no outside concern to you. Maybe this would help you during a job interview, a hard day at work, or a public speech? What about before a first date, a night of socializing, or an afternoon jamming on your guitar?

    Positive psychologists have developed a concept to describe this state of awareness, called flow, “a mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.” I like to describe this state as, where consciousness and action collide.


    When someone is in flow, they don’t have the mental resources to feel anxious or worried or to think “What if I mess this up?” Not at all – they are too busy focusing all their energy in what they are doing to have such trivial concerns. There is no physical capacity to even think twice about an action. It is almost as if you are in a complete state of spontaneity but it is a disciplined spontaneity.

    How To Build And Use Flow

    Trying to incorporate flow into our life can be tough, but the rewards it brings make our efforts to build flow worth it. When we in this state we are more productive and skillful, because we are more aware of what we are doing. By being more aware we can more effectively monitor our actions, and thereby change and improve upon them to better serve our interests.

    1. Make beneficial actions second nature

    If you know something works in your favor then you should continue to take advantage of it. If you see the benefits in going to the gym, practicing guitar, or writing in your journal – then make those things become a part of you. Treat them as though they were second nature, like a reflex – something that you don’t even have to think about because it is so common to you, like chewing food or walking down the street. By doing something over and over again you build it up into your neurology, you sometimes end up doing it before you even realize it.

    2. Learn to love the things you do

    For any habit that you want to build you must learn how to love doing it. This is nothing more than associating good feelings to the action. Is it any wonder we get addicted to things like drugs and sex when they give us so much pleasure? Learn to elicit that same pleasure from doing other things. Just imagine how good it feels when you are being productive and organized, not missing a step in your busy work schedule. When you love doing something you don’t have to constantly remind yourself, it may even become something you look forward to. Who says you can’t also create these good feelings towards simple things like eating healthy, flossing your teeth, or doing your homework on time?

    3. Find the rhythm

    All states of flow have a certain rhythm to them. There is a moment-by-moment dance you can become sucked in. But everyone’s flow will be different, because it depends on your daily lifestyle. Some parts of your day might be more high energy, while others are more chilled out, and these may alternate and wave back and forth throughout the day. Pay attention to this as you go through the next few days. Find your particular rhythm, and learn how to dance with it by allocating your energy efficiently from task to task. This will help tremendously with your perseverance.

    4. Don’t ignore the bumps in the road

    Rarely if ever are our days perfect. But one common mistake is to conveniently look passed our missteps instead of learning from them. When there is pain or hurt in an area of your life we typically have an avoidance response, but what we should be doing is raising consciousness during times of difficulty, not lowering it. By being more mindful of our mistakes we can learn and improve them, not ignore them and keep letting them happen. This is a crucial step if we want to keep integrating positive flow into our lifestyle, because there are certainly cases like in drug addiction where people get caught in negative states of flow, despite the pain it causes.

    5. Always be ready for change

    Flow doesn’t necessarily mean we are always doing the same things over and over again. It just means that when we are doing something – we are one with it – and therefore completely focused in on the task in front of us. It may happen sometimes when an unexpected event occurs, but this doesn’t mean it has to knock us off the rhythm of our flow. We can still be one with what we are doing in situations that are unfamiliar to us. This doesn’t necessarily mean we will do the best job in the world, but we will at least do the best job that we are capable of in that moment. We should always be prepared for unexpected things to happen for the very reason that we will remain calm and aware when they do, and not let our fears and anxieties get the best of us.

    6. Forget about the things that don’t count

    Although I recommend being aware of our missteps, there are some things that aren’t worth paying attention to, such as a cruel comment from the boss or a coffee stain on our new tie. Sometimes little stuff like this can ruin our day, but it would be silly to let something so insignificant screw up a whole day’s flow. It is better that we practice forgetting about these things we can’t change. Instead of wasting energy being upset or frustrated, it would be better to just transform that energy into something more productive and positive. We will feel better because of it anyway.

    Encouraging words

    Lots of personal development sites go over the power of our thoughts, the law of attraction, and how our desires can bring great things to our life, yet they often neglect the power of doing and taking action. Flow is a concept that elegantly combines mind and body. It teaches us how to focus, how to be intent, and how to use these mental faculties to improve our actions. Flow helps turn life into an ongoing meditation, a state of continuous bliss and engagement. Begin practicing flow in your life today; with the right effort and commitment, the benefits can be endless.

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