“Everything goes silent. Time slows down. My peripheral vision fades away. It’s the most peaceful state of mind I’ve ever known. I’ll take all the failures. As long as I know that feeling is coming, that’s enough to keep going.” - Danny Way, American Professional Skateboarder
Every athlete dreams of becoming the best. Some may just want to have fun and enjoy the game. However, enjoyment and the feeling of fulfilment cannot be easily achieved. An athlete needs to enter an Athletic Optimal State in order to reach the top. They need to learn to enter the Flow State.
If you’re already following my flow blog, you would read more articles that explain the Importance of Flow but if you just stumbled in this article, no need to worry for I’ll explain the basic elements of Flow State, the 9 Reported Behaviours of the Number 1 Athletic Optimal State.
A well-known research psychologist has spent most of his time studying this state. His name is Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (chick-send-me-high), former chair of the department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. He said that Flow, also known as the zone, is an engagement with what you’re doing, wanting to continue the activity for its own sake, and the way people describe their state of mind when consciousness is harmoniously ordered. Anyone may enter the zone, athletes, singer, dancer, writer, painter, employee, almost anyone active can potentially lead to it, but not normally something passive like watching TV.
Flow State is achieved through doing something difficult, risky or even painful - by focusing on the task, enjoying the moment and letting yourself merge. It usually stretched your capacity, provided a challenge to your capabilities, and involved some discovery or novelty.
The 9 Behaviours or Elements of Flow
- Clear Goals – Every player knows exactly what is required in order to win a game. The rules and your purpose are clear, you know what to do next.
- Immediate Feedback - When you're in flow, you know how well you're doing. Your body and mind quickly respond to whatever the situation is. You do not need to think of anything else outside the task. You're purely focused.
- A balance between Skills and Challenge – The difficulty of a task has to provide the right degree of challenge to a person’s ability. A too difficult workout will leave an athlete frustrated, disappointed and injured. A too easy one leads to boredom and routine. So flow occurs in range between “too much” or “too little”.
- There is no worry of Failure – While you’re in Flow State, you’re too involved to be concerned about failing. You’re not thinking about failure, you just know what has to be done and you just do it. You have a complete control but you’re not controlling.
- Distractions are Excluded from Consciousness – Because you’re absorbed in the activity, you’re only aware of what’s relevant to the task at hand without thinking unrelated things. By being focused on the activity, anxiety and any other forms of distractions are set aside.
- An Altered Perception of Time – Time flies when you’re really engaged in Flow State. Time can either feel condensed – two hours feel like ten minutes, or expanded – seconds feel like minutes. That is why the flow-mode is called “timeless”.
- Action and Awareness are merged – Complete involvement creates a state in which there is no room for worry, fear, or self-conscious contemplation. Athletes do not feel separated from their actions; they are one with their performance. This feeling of unity can expand to a person’s surroundings (nature) as well as to a whole group of people working together (team flow).
- Self-consciousness Disappear - People often spend a lot of mental energy monitoring how they appear to others. In Flow State, you’re too involved in your task that you don’t have time to care about protecting your ego. You might even feel connected to something larger than yourself.
- The Activity becomes “Autotelic” – From Greek word Autos – self and telos – goal. Some activities are done for their own sake, for the enjoyment and experience provide, like most art, music, or sports. Other activities which are done for some future purpose or goal – like your job – may only be a means to an end. But some of these goal-oriented activities can also become ends in themselves, and enjoyed for their own sake.
Want to hack into your Flow State? Well, today is your day for I am giving away Simple 3 Step Formula to hack into your past experiences of the Flow State for Athletes!
You see, when you think of an experience, your body release the same neurochemicals as if you’re experiencing the situation right now. So with the correct training, you can consistently get into the Flow State which you know would be awesome for getting ready for your competition, business meeting or whatsoever! Sign up today and get your Flow Code Course!
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On top of that, if you’re hot for more information check out our short documentary about the zone and the Flow State. Warning, however, this presentation does come with a Scottish Accent! BUT we have subtitles 😉
Csikszentmihalyi concluded that “in many ways, the secret to a happy life is to learn to get flow from as many of the things we have to do as possible.”
Enrich your life by making a commitment and a concrete plan to put more flow – an optimal state experience of engagement – in your sport and in your life.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper Perennial.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1996). Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: Harper Collins.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life. New York: Basic Books. (a how-to book with practical applications).
Flow - The 8 Elements of Enjoyment. (2015, August 17). Retrieved January 4, 2016, from https://www.garycarmell.com/flow-8-elements-of-enjoyment/
Meaning and Happiness.com. (n.d.). Retrieved January 4, 2016, from http://www.meaningandhappiness.com/zone-enjoyment-creativity-elements-flow/26/
The 8 Elements of Flow. (n.d.). Retrieved January 4, 2016, from http://www.flowskills.com/the-8-elements-of-flow.html