Flow is what happens when you stop chasing around your thoughts for a dose of pleasure and just live in the current moment. While modern psychological research focuses on flow as a creativity or productivity aid, ancient studies view it as the art of acceptance.
Researchers will tell you — and parents as well — that children instinctively know how to do this, but as adults we seem to have forgotten how.
One of the best ways to go with the flow is to create space for that which gives you joy. Not only should you put aside time for the work, activities and people that you love but you should also commit to being fully present when you are interacting and engaging with them.
However, the benefits of being present go beyond good experiences too. If you are unhappy with some element of your life, it’s tempting to escape by hoping for a better future state or dwelling on the times in the past that seemed better than now. Moreover, feeling regret about the past or worrying about the future keeps you from being present too.
There is nothing wrong with periodically thinking about your past or future, but if you spend a disproportionate time focused on then or when, instead of now, it can lead you down a real messy wormhole.
The key to staying present, in both good and difficult times, is practicing gratitude. Gratitude helps you identify and appreciate what you deem to be good and meaningful in your life. It also amplifies the positive effects of these experiences and empowers you to generate more of them.
Another way to go with the flow is to do what you love, fully. How many times do you commit to something (say self-care) and only give it 50% effort or less? How much are you really getting out of it if it is only done half-heartedly?
Think about a person learning a new language. They’ll become fluent faster if they live in a country where the language is spoken natively vs. staying home and learning it online.
Full immersion means you throw yourself into the activity with 100% effort, energy and enthusiasm. You don’t hold back, you don’t take shortcuts. You go all in on what matters most, which leads to deeper experiences and a greater appreciation for them.
To start immersing yourself more fully in meaningful activities and relationships, create space for them. Clear any clutter that is sucking up time, energy and other resources, then reallocate that capacity to what you actually want and need.
Remind yourself — by saying out loud, if necessary — that it’s perfectly fine and good for you to have fun, to take a break from chores and responsibilities, to do something just because you enjoy it and want to nurture that part of yourself.
Get back to having fun and revel in the unexpected. We hope that this month you can spark that spontaneity again and flow.