Flow

In my last blog, I wrote about my newfound search for happiness and I mentioned that I would be getting back to you all and reporting on what I find. I’ve been using several techniques, but the most difference has occurred by my epiphany in my last blog that we are built to be happy, and that it is just and right to seek happiness.

I was sat in bed (my office – as those of you who know me well will know) and was thinking about the days when I am tired – or just after work when I am tired. Or when I have a large amount of time off work, and I feel like I should be resting, but I end up watching so much TV or playing so many computer games that I feel stuck in a rut. There are other times when I feel like a week’s holiday from work is so precious – that I can’t decide what to do with it. There are so many options for me – so much that I really want to achieve in my life, that I feel overwhelmed. I end up worrying that I would be enjoying something else more and so don’t relax into the task or pass – time that I am currently doing.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It doesn’t really sound very present or mindful does it?

There is this thing called “Flow” – I’m sure you’ve experienced it. You’re in the middle of a piece of writing or a consultation with a customer, for example, and time just seems to disappear. It’s as if you lose all traces of self-consciousness and your totally engrossed in the task or project in hand. You forget what day it is, what time it is, the rest of the world, and you feel at peace. Fully in the present moment. You feel great during and after this session – a feeling of satisfaction and then, you’re ready to let it go, and do something else.

“Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we use this energy. Memories, thoughts and feelings are all shaped by how use it. And it is an energy under control, to do with as we please; hence attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Doesn’t this feel like the perfect antidote to my experiences above?

What makes you feel like this? What kind of things bring about this feeling for you? I would like to invite you to write a list of them now. Go on, this blog will still be here when you get back.

There are moments when I’m at work or at home and I feel like I want to work on something, but i can’t quite put my finger on what I want to spend my time doing. Not even necessarily a project, just lacking some inspiration about how to spend my time. I have a feeling it may be because I don’t often get a day or a whole weekend to myself – having two teenagers at home. It’s quite a stuck murky feeling – and these are the times when I end up procrastinating and watching telly all day – but if i’m honest I’m not really enjoying it after the first movie or program, or after the first 45 minutes of gaming.

This morning – I wrote a list like the one I asked you to write above. Now, we are going to take a few moments to think of other projects that are important to us as well, that perhaps we have been putting off, but that we know – once we start them, we’ll get into flow and won’t want to stop. Redecorating anyone? Or how about clearing out that anything and everything draw? Add these to the list too.
It would be good for us as well to add important things like rest, play time, fun, and exercise to this list too.

Is your list ready?

Stick it up somewhere that is easily accessible (don’t worry – you can keep it private if you want to. But make sure you can get to it easily).

In our day-to-day lives, we are going to start connecting to ourselves more. Our emotions, and the physical sensations of our bodies. Are we tired? Hungry? Full of energy? Stressed? I usually pray, but you can do whatever process you feel comfortable using to get in touch with yourself – to find that place of calm in your centre. Ask yourself “what do I really want to do right now?”.
We may find that we get an immediate answer and don’t need to check our list, but if we don’t, we’ll go and look at our list and see which item draws our attention or inspires us, energizes us, the most.

Now we are going to devote at least half an hour to this item.

Don’t worry – if we get so engrossed and in the flow we can keep going with it until it no longer interests us or for up to a full hour.

Notice that I switched to using the word “we”? That was on purpose, because we are in this together. Rising tides lift all boats – not sure who first used that phrase – but it’s true. This is how I experience my flow and joy. What energizes me – inspiring myself and the people around me to live happier, more fulfilled lives,

So what do you think? Are you with me?

As always, I welcome your experiences, thoughts and feedback.

Peace, love and blessings,

Lucy Loizou