How can I experience flow in my everyday life?

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Edward Phillips
Physical Therapy
Think about times in your life when you've experienced flow (an effortless, active state of being during which you lose awareness of time, self, and distractions) and seek a new way to invite it into your life. So if you feel confidence and pleasure in your driving, or have the ability to play a particular piano concerto, you might try driving your car on unfamiliar roads or playing a more complex composition. Match your skills to a new activity that offers rich sensory experiences: perhaps a pottery class, a carpentry project, or a different medium in art.
Ronald Siegel
Psychology
To experience flow, keep these strategies in mind as you go about your daily activities:
  • Aim to surprise yourself and discover new things about your abilities and the activity.
  • Choose an activity that can provide you with new feelings, experiences, and insights, and allow your feelings and awareness to flow without attempting to interfere.
  • Pay attention to your bodily sensations and posture.
  • Overcome the urge to stop at every mistake. You are likely to be at your best when you focus on what you want to accomplish or experience and don't allow mistakes to be distracting.
  • Accept that physical symptoms of nervousness are normal and will naturally ease off once you get going.
  • Try working or playing with others.
  • Maintain your sense of humor.
When an activity itself—say, dusting or waiting in line at the bank—isn't likely to be flow-inducing, you can still create your own opportunity for flow. Stop and find ways to experience the moment. What do you hear? Are the birds singing? What do you feel? Your breath? Or the breeze on your skin? Or focus on how your weight shifts as you stand. When you chat with friends or family members, make the most of these conversations by asking questions that lead to thoughtful answers. Don't assume you already know their biography, opinions, and approach to life. Actively listen to what they are saying and try to learn something new.

Lastly, don't delay. Procrastination is the enemy of flow. In college-based studies, the more students procrastinate, the less likely they are to experience flow when studying and learning. Students were most likely to procrastinate when they felt that their skills were out of sync with the challenges they perceived in the task at hand, and if they were very self-conscious about their abilities and how their efforts would be judged. If you find yourself procrastinating, take a look at the task ahead. Can you reframe it as a want-to rather than a have-to activity? Can you balance the skill/challenge ratio, perhaps by breaking it down into smaller chunks that you can plunge into without being overwhelmed?

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.