Have you ever experienced flow?
According to researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, "flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz."
Some people describe flow as mystical or spiritual as if the activity or work they are engaged in is channeled through them, and not actually done or created by them.
Finding flow helps you lose weight.
The cool thing about flow is that while you’re in it, not much else matters. It’s like being in a state of hyper-focus, and it allows you to tune out the rest of the world. When flow happens, it’s as if you have superpowers, and the activity you are doing feels effortless and natural.
So how we use flow to help us get healthy and lose weight? Well, it makes sense that if you were to find flow while you were meal planning, for example, meal planning would be a very enjoyable experience—and not the chore that it usually is.
Imagine trying to cook a healthy meal from scratch and instead of working hard at it, the muse shows up and you just naturally combine the ingredients in the right amounts. And it tastes delicious! Wouldn’t it be fun to flow through that?
But here’s the catch. Flow doesn’t just happen.
How do you find flow?
For starters, you don’t just find flow. It’s lovely to think that flow just magically happens in our lives when we need it. But it doesn’t work that way.
Often times we procrastinate starting on projects or activities because we say we are waiting for inspiration. Or we just don’t feel like it. We say the "muse" hasn’t arrived yet.
And so we wait. We put off learning new skills, or doing important work, or making our lives better because we think there’s going to be this magical feeling that comes along to put us into a state of flow.
Flow requires doing.
Flow can only show up if you are already doing the work. There is no magic. You have to DO something before the flow can find you. You have to practice the skill and do the work first. And if you practice consistently, flow happens. Not all the time, of course, but the more you show up and practice, the more flow you will experience.
If you want to write a novel, you have to practice writing. The more you practice writing, the more often you’ll experience flow.
If you want to cook healthy meals effortlessly, you have to practice cooking healthy meals. The more you practice, the more often flow will show up in your kitchen.
If you want to change your habits and live a healthier lifestyle, you have to practice living a healthier lifestyle. When you do, guess what happens? Yep. Flow.
Skills require practice. And consistent practice always opens the door to flow.
“Flow is the result of effort. The muse shows up when we do the work.
Not the other way around.” —Seth Godin
People who experience flow put in time practicing their skills. They don't wait for the muse to show up before they start writing. They don't wait to feel the flow before they start cooking. They don't wait to feel the flow before they start living the life they envision.
They just start practicing.
PS. Sometimes we call this state of flow the muse. In this Ted talk (highly recommended) Elizabeth Gilbert eloquently describes the experience of dancing with her muse when she wrote her book Eat, Pray, Love.