Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Psychology, Thought | Posted on 02-22-2017
Have you ever had a sense of “The Flow” when playing a sport or pursuing a creative endeavor?
While flow (or being in “The Zone”) has always been a part of my work and my writing, I became acutely aware of it when I took up tennis a couple of years ago. At first I was pretty clunky. I had to deliberately think about everything I was doing in order to have any chance of hitting the ball. But after awhile and with enough practice, I was able to get the ball over the net with some proficiency.
The more I thought about what I was trying to do, the worse I got.
Planning how hard to hit the ball, or where to aim it or in what position to stand rarely went well! Even having a bad day prior to playing had negative consequences. When I was up in my head, it affected my game.
Of course, the opposite was also true:
The less I had on my mind, the more I was able to go with The Flow.
When my mind was clear and I told myself, “You know where to go and how to hit the ball,” I did much better.
Once I recognized what The Flow was in tennis, I saw many other places in my life where I had naturally been flowing. Certainly with creative endeavors. And definitely with my old SEO work. I even wrote about “SEO and the Zen Factor” way back in 2005. I just hadn’t realized I was talking about The Flow and being in The Zone at the time.
What I noticed back then–and what I’m seeing more clearly now is:
The more practice and experience I have with whatever it is I’m doing, the more I seem to be able to naturally flow with it. And as long as I stay out of my own way, being in The Flow is what creates amazing things and experiences!
More and more I see that…
The key to a happy successful life is to live in The Zone and go with The Flow.
So how can we be in that space as much as possible?
Here are the steps as I currently see them:
- Receive inspiration about something we might want to do or create. For instance, I might see something which sparks an idea for me to try. Or perhaps something just comes to me out of the blue that sounds like fun. When I’m paying attention, I receive inspiration on a regular basis. It may be small things like what to eat for lunch, or big ones such as a new way of sharing my knowledge with others. The key here is to be inspired “just cuz,” not because we think we’ll only be happy in the doing or having of something.
- Learn what we need to learn about whatever it is we want to do. While the learning aspect uses the intellectual part of our mind and may take some time, when we’re totally inspired and passionate about what we’re doing, we don’t even notice. The learning itself becomes fun and inspiring. Personally, I love to learn new things every day!
- Enjoy the journey and forget about time. Some people like to put a deadline on what they want to do or be or create. But for me, going with The Flow means letting things unfold when they unfold. It could be hours, days, weeks, months, years or decades. The less I personally have on when something will happen, the more in The Zone I can be.
- Don’t be attached to the outcome. Flow, by its very nature has no beginning nor end. It’s an ever moving stream of infinite possibilities. While we may have some idea of what we would like to ultimately end up with, the Universe may have other (even better) things in store for us. If we become too attached to what we think we want, we may miss out on something amazing. Something that we never could have imagined when we first started.
As you can see, going with The Flow isn’t actually a doing. It’s more of a jumping into the already moving river and seeing where it takes us.
So here’s my next question for you…
What if everything we did and every moment we lived was played out in The Zone?
Even the little everyday things.
It seems that life would just keep moving forward. Which incidentally, it’s doing anyway–whether we are going with it or fighting against it!
Yet for some reason, we often try to jump out of The Flow. Or worse, paddle upstream against it! You know those times where everything seems to be conspiring against you and try as you might, nothing’s going your way?
Chances are, you’re out of The Zone and certainly not going with The Flow.
Let’s be honest, stuff’s gonna happen and it’s not always gonna be good. We can fight it (a losing battle) or we can go with it and let it play out however it’s going to play out. I’m not going to tell you that I’m always going with The Flow. But I’m more convinced than ever that for peace of mind, going with it rather than fighting against it is definitely the better choice!
How about you?
P.S. Here’s a video a made awhile back about my “Effortless Tennis” experience:
Prefer listening? Click the green arrow below!