Have you ever wondered what makes people achieve peak performances?
Have you ever wondered what is that feeling you have when you forget about time and space?
Well, there is a term for it. It’s called Flow -“the psychology of optimal experience” (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
It might be that at first sight, flow is a fancy word, used in the 21st century to describe how cool it was last night when you went out with your friends, but actually is more than that.
This phenomenon called “flow” is now recognized as a valuable psychological concept which brings value and meaning to people’s lives.
How is this possible?
Think about a time when you were so engaged, so absorbed by what you were doing that you completely forgot about yourself, about feeling thirsty, hungry or cold, about being disturbed or concerned about something, you completely forgot about the environment around you, where you are and what is the position of your body on the chair, you forgot about time as a dimension and woke up realizing how late it was.
Think about that because, what you were doing in that particular state might represent your source of enjoyment, happiness, and even extraordinary performance. It might represent the thing that brings you in the flow state of mind, which is nothing else than profound concentration and submersion in a deeply enjoyable activity. You do it for the sake of doing it, and you will are able to do it at whatever cost, because the activity is so interesting and juicy that nothings else matters. It is what the painter feels when the colors on his canvas start to manifest a magnetic tension, giving birth to a new living form, it is what an athlete feels when having the game of his life, when despite difficulty and struggle he stretches his mind and his body in a voluntary effort to accomplish something worthwhile.
There is no space for wonder or concern in that moment, because what truly matters is being in the process, becoming one with the present moment, becoming the full expression of own self and own potential.
These are experiences that lead to exceptional performances, are moments that challenge ourselves to expand in order to achieve something we have never achieved. It is about the attention, the energy, the effort we put in an activity that we enjoy but seems hard to perform: for a swimmer it might be about beating his own record, for a violinist it could be about mastering a specific musical passage, for a soldier it could be about walking again after being seriously injured in a war, for each of us could be about the hundreds of opportunities we might encounter to rise above our own performance and expand ourselves.
And these performances, that we worked hard to achieve, will be the ones we remember as being the most meaningful in our lives.
As a final quote, here is a short conversation that could serve you to check if you are in the Flow:
“Where are you?” “Here.”
“What time is it?” “Now.”
“What are You?” “This Moment.”