HOW TO FEEL YOUR BEST AND ACCESS YOUR FULL POTENTIAL
Have you ever wondered what exactly makes people be passionate about extreme sports? Why there are so many who master the art of base jumping, free soloing, volcano surfing, ice climbing, or cave diving? And the most important, how this topic relates to your entrepreneur life?
What if I’ll tell you that you are able to experience the same drive extreme athletes feel? A drive that pushes humans beyond their limits and helps them reach unforgettable heights. A state of mind that makes people perform their best while living rich moments of complete dedication to the task. A peak state that stops the time and annihilates the inner critic. It’s called “flow” and it’s considered to be the most powerful and addictive experience a human can feel.
Forget about motivational videos and speeches. This article is about real stuff that you can apply to your daily life. This article is for you if you want to effortlessly improve your performance and experience constant drive to do your work.
THE MOST ADDICTIVE STATE YOU’LL EVER FEEL
Do you know that your brain is naturally capable of reproducing the effect of 5 different drugs without putting you in a coma? Even more, by feeling that, you’ll access the awe and the power to conquer the world! This moment is called “flow” and every person can achieve it without recurring to dangerous drug cocktails.
Studied in the 70s, by the famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow is the optimal state of mind. Experiencing it, people are so deeply involved in their activity that nothing else matters.
As Steven Kotler specifies, previously the most popular theory was that only 10% of our brain is active. Thus, while being in the flow state, other parts of the brain must be activated. Yet, the studies show that during the flow state, it happens the exact opposite. Parts of the brain deactivate. Functions such as the inner critic, the sense of will, or the complex decision making shut down. What happens next? We experience a profound sense of liberation. This feeling is also conditioned by the powerful neurochemicals the brain produces.
In the flow state, the brain releases neurochemicals such as norepinephrine, dopamine, anandamide, serotonin and endorphins. This is a “giant cascade of neurochemistry”. The phenomenon stimulates the “feeling good” state and enhances the performance.
Kotler indicates that this cocktail is similar to the effect of 5 different drugs taken at the same time. For example, endorphins are opiates, thus they are the natural version of morphine. Yet, the endorphins that the brain produces are 100% more powerful than the medical morphine. The same thing happens with other neurochemicals.
WHEN EVERYTHING HAPPENS EFFORTLESSLY
Flow is the most addictive state on the earth and although you may not be aware of it, you experienced it already. Remember those moments when you were doing something and:
- You lost the notion of time
- The inner critic disappeared
- The focus became sharp as a razor
- You felt a strong sense of control
- You experienced high alertness
- The task was highly enjoyable
- You couldn’t stop
- Everything happened effortlessly.
Do you recognize having these experiences, easily completing the tasks and enjoying the moment? Well, these are the effects of flow, a state which makes people give the best and express their higher potential.
You would be surprised to find out how many famous artists, scientists, or writers are taking about flow. During this moment of bliss they find themselves able to produce veritable masterpieces. You can hear stories about how, for example, Jay Z can stay in the studio for hours until he finds the right rhythm or line.
There are also the extreme sports practitioners. As it was mentioned in the first part of the article, there’s a powerful drive that makes them risk their lives. In his book “The rise of Superman” Steven Kotler talks about adventure sports athletes. He argues that flow happens far more often to people who dedicate themselves to achieve the ultimate human performance. Being in extreme situations, athletes see flow as a necessity. It helps them survive the big waves, the unfriendly mountains or the fast rivers.
Flow is about building momentum and focusing the physical and the mental energy on doing one task. The explosion of addictive neurochemicals that happens in your brain makes you achieve the bliss. During this state, you can work for hours, be as creative as you wish, and express your full potential.
YOU ALSO CAN BE A SUPERMAN
“But I’m not an action athlete. I’m an entrepreneur and my daily job is about sitting in front of my computer. How can I achieve experience flow?” Your question is fair. Yet, there are some strategies that will help you experience flow more often.
After studying the activity of various adventure sports athletes, Kotler came up with a series of flow strategies. These practices are easy to apply and are adaptable to different types of lifestyles. In other words, you don’t have to be an adventurer to be able to enjoy the outcomes of flow.
Steve Kotler talks about four main triggers that have the power to activate your flow state. He mainly focuses on the environmental, psychological, social, and creative triggers. Taking this as a referential point, here is a list of actions that can induce the flow state:
- Be willing to take risks. Each time you do so (even if it’s about making contacts during an event) your mind enters in the survival mode. Your focus becomes sharper, and you are ready for the “confrontation.” These circumstances are ideal for experiencing the flow state.
- Put yourself in new contexts. Leaving the comfort zone is always good if you want to expand your knowledge and develop your skills. If your surroundings are rich in novelty, uncertainty, and complexity, you’ll experience the flow.
- Be aware of your environment. As Kotler specifies, it’s important to practice the 5 senses and be aware of every single detail the surroundings have to offer. By doing so, you can experience the flow of the space, feeling a deep embodiment and a strong physical awareness.
- Have clear goals. Don´t let yourself be trapped in confusion. Clarity is one of the factors that build momentum. You have to know where you go and be firm about it. Having clear goals will pull you away from the apathy zone and will force you to focus on what it’s important for you.
- Ask for immediate feedback. It doesn’t matter if it’s a positive or negative response. Knowing what you have to do will help you improve your skills. You’ll be even more determinate in your actions. Asking for immediate input will make you focused on the steps you have to take, thus it´s much more likely that you’ll be in the flow state.
- Adapt the challenge – skills ratio. If you have to accomplish a task that is beyond your abilities, it’s more likely that you’ll experience fear. In the case of accomplishing a task that is above your skills, it’s probable that you’ll feel bored. To induce the flow state, it’s important to find a balance between the complexity of the task and your capacities.
- Develop the sense of familiarity. If they want to accomplish different tasks, people have to be on the same page. Sharing a common language and knowledge has the power to trigger the so-called “group flow.”
- Be humble. When you are capable of diminishing the importance of your ego, you let yourself be overwhelmed by the greatness of the mission you pursue. This is an important trigger that makes possible the flow state.
- Develop the sense of control. Autonomy is another important flow trigger. By being able to choose by yourself the challenges you want to surmount, you become responsible for the outcomes of your actions. Thus, this awareness makes you be even more focused and determined.
- Explore your creativity. Kotler specifies that by linking new ideas together and having the courage to tell these ideas to the world, your brain experiences a powerful neurochemical reaction. Transform creativity into your virtue. Be always open to unfamiliar approaches and feel free to speak about them. This will help you achieve and maintain the flow state.
By being able to understand and control the flow, you can access one of the most important states your brain can produce. By doing so, you have the chance to experience the power of your own potential. Flow is famous for enabling you to feel the best and providing energy for effortless work and focus. Try and level-up your work experience by experimenting with different flow triggers. There’s nothing more powerful and blissful than enjoying your work and manifesting your full potential.
Share with us your story! What your flow experiences are? What triggered them and what the results are?