On Flow States

For those who have gotten to experience a flow state, it’s one of the cooler things that a human being can do. In these states, you’ll find yourself focused beyond anything you thought was possible, and anything but the task at hand seems to melt away. I’m one of the folks who has experienced a flow state, and I often use them deliberately when I need to get a lot of work done or to teach a class. Today, I want to talk about these states with you, and perhaps give you some guidance about inducing them so that you can experience them for yourself.

What’s a flow state?

You’ve probably heard of a flow state before, often called “being in the zone.” It’s a state of mind where you’re super-focused on a single thing, but you do not feel stressed. Instead, you feel totally in control. In this state, your perception of time slows down to a crawl, and you can pick out details and nuances better than you otherwise could, and make conscious decisions about them.

A lot of different kinds of people experience flow states. Often, you’ll hear about them from top-performing athletes and musicians. Pilots, especially those who fly acrobatics or fighter aircraft, or race-car drivers make good use of them. I’ve also spoken with more than one soldier who experienced flow states in particularly high-stake situations.

In these states, you can perform at your absolute best: because your perception of time slows to a crawl and you’re super focused, it’s possible to make conscious decisions on the fly, which can lead to great results. But, these states are sometimes hard to reach, and they’re almost always exhausting. But, with a little bit of work, I think it’s possible to get into these states more regularly and get a lot of use out of them.

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