What Blocks FLOW?

We all receive so many messages about what we should be doing. These goals are often rooted in what is valued by the outer world, such as winning, beating the competition, making money, or looking good–all externally driven.

One of my favorite messages received during these Flow Challenges was from Kristine:

“At first I believed that I had to do something that lies dormant on my bucket list like learning to paint. Being near the end of my third month of healing from my life threatening infections (9 days in the hospital, 27 days in rehab/care facilities, two surgeries, and now a six-week course of skin grafts…), I’m just too tired to start something new. So, I wondered what I could do to flow!

Yesterday and the day before, I read a novel. That is something I haven’t done for months. Today I sat outside in the sun, breathed the fresh air, and realized that I have been staying inside too much, for days on end. So, my flow activity for the next unspecified period of time is to get outside each day, even though I can’t walk more than a few feet at a time. To smell and breathe the fresh air, to feel the sun on my skin, to notice the beautiful fall colors, or the twinkling of the bay, makes me smile and flow. That’s it for now! Flow ho!”

Thank you so much for sharing, Kristine! She reminds us what flow is really all about.

When we focus too much on meeting goals that have been established by someone else or what others think of us or what we should be doing at the expense of our own inner voice or yearnings, the harder it is to get into a flow state, and to experience a life that flows.

By definition, flow is an inner experience of well-being, an altered state. The key to reaching the highest levels of performance available to humans isn’t through a desire to win accolades or a team trophy, but something much more powerful and deeper–through honoring our own unique needs, wants, and biological make-up. In fact, by definition, during a flow state, we disengage and lose awareness of what others might think or how what we are doing might be perceived by others.

Kristine is also onto something else. Reading is one of the most commonly reported flow activities around the world, according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. We all know that feeling of being completely immersed in a good book that we lose awareness of time, our surroundings, or other things on our to-do list.

Flow is the key to us feeling positive. The flow state is innate, natural and has been around as long as human beings have. It’s also interesting to note that Csikszentmihalyi uncovered flow as a distinct state of consciousness while researching human happiness and well-being, not productivity.

When we listen to our intuition as to what is most healthy for us as unique individuals, flow (and a boost in productivity) is often the reward we experience as a result. The reason we achieve high levels of achievement and performance during flow is that we are making internal choices based on our own unique inner drivers and what inspires us as very distinct individuals.

Kristine is also onto something else, equally as important when it comes to well-being and happiness. In the years since I’ve been facilitating these flow challenges, I’ve noticed a huge connection between nature, flow, and happiness. This is also backed by research

Research also proves there are incredible benefits to time in nature. We need just two hours a week of outside time to reap the benefits, which include lower blood pressure, anxiety and stress hormones, and increased self-esteem and moods.

I am continually learning about what really makes our lives flow by listening to all of those who show up, month after month, to join me in these 28-day flow challenges, and as part of this community.

If you have an insight, feedback, or a story from participating in one of my free 28-Day Flow Challenges, email me at [email protected]. I value your privacy and will only share your story with your written permission.

Photo source: Patiwat Sariya/shutterstock.com

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