If you knew how to scientifically create the best moments of your life, would you do it?
Being able to enter a state of Flow saved me from tough times.
A few years ago I worked in an international music festival and it was one of the most beautiful and formative periods of my life.
However, there were moments that were not too pleasant, which contributed to my personal growth.
A simple solution for a difficult problem
The Festival put physical and mental resistance to the test with 16/17 hours a day of work for 20 consecutive days.
During one of the last editions, I suffered heavy bullying.
The tension was high and hostilities certainly did not help.
I came home after 11.30pm and my husband saw me suffering, perhaps more mentally than physically.
I don’t remember exactly how, but we decided to start a coloring book.
He then did his best to find everything he needed, so every night I returned, before collapsing in bed, I could color.
I still do it sometimes, not necessarily when I’m stressed.
When I tell it I meet puzzled looks, because it is often seen as a childish, superfluous activity.
The truth is that during that time coloring probably saved me from a nervous breakdown. Every time I sat in front of the drawing, I entered a state of absolute serenity, of complete absorption. Suddenly all the tension eased until it gradually disappeared. My mind freed itself from the thoughts and worries that had haunted me all day, just as the clouds recede leaving the blue, clear sky.
My creativity was put to the test and I was pleased to see the design take shape.
The “Flow State”
I later discovered that this highly focused state of mind is what athletes call “the area” and is one of the main pillars of positive psychology: “the flow state”.
The state of Flow occurs when we are busy in an activity and enjoy the pleasure of every second that passes with the perception of “time that flies”.
It is an internal state that people experience when they are completely involved in something to the point of forgetting fatigue, time and all the rest, except the activity itself.
If you have ever experienced the state of the flow, you may have noticed that you are so focused on what you are doing, that you forget what is happening around you and do not want that moment to end.
Flow into a state of inner calm to reach happiness
The Flow, recognized, studied for decades and nominated by the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is linked to happiness, talent, and creativity.
Csikszentmihalyi defines “flow” as the “optimal experience”, is the sum of positive aspects of human experience such as joy, creativity and the process of total involvement with life.
This state of mind is fundamental for the personal achievement of happiness. Each of us can reach it.
When it occurs
The state of Flow occurs when the capacities we have are in balance with the challenges presented by the activity. The task to be carried out is in harmony with one’s abilities: it will not be too easy or difficult and the objectives will be realistic.
This positive mental state can be experienced when doing any activity. Knowing how to identify them is vital, as they contribute to adding meaning and greater value to life.
The state of Flow and Stress
If we take a moment to analyze the stress, we will realize that it is the opposite of the state of Flow. Stress has remained stranded, moored and anchored to a series of circumstances. In other words, it makes us prisoners of worries, fears or responsibilities.
Stress keeps us from moving forward. Day after day we feel connected to the same things.
It makes us believe that we never achieve what we propose: we lack time.
The day never has enough hours to reach our goals.
Our brain processes stress as a state of activation that prepares us to escape from an alleged threat.
When it occurs, our mind stops having its internal balance. We are always tense, attentive and our eyes focus on what we need to accomplish the next day.
Flow is a state of mind in which individuals are involved in what they do.
Concentration is so strong that we no longer think about problems or irrelevant things. Self-awareness disappears and the notion of time is distorted.
I have been searching for and continuing my search for these precious moments. We are often overwhelmed by the distractions or priorities of others and we can forget to experience this kind of experience. For this reason, whenever I find an activity that allows me to enter the flow, I take note of it on the “Here & Now” page.
William Ury has beautifully expressed what I mean:
“I have learned a single lesson. I have learned, it is this: in life, we are destined to lose many things. That is the nature of life. Never mind. Just don’t lose the present. Nothing is worth it.”