Optimal Conditions for Flow State
When we’re really “in the zone,” we often lose conscious awareness of the actions we’re performing. Think about how easy and second nature it becomes to write when you’ve got a million thoughts to get on paper, or how you don’t even think about raising your glove to catch that baseball.
Concentration on task at hand
When we’re zeroed in on the single task that we’re working to accomplish, we’re better able to find flow than if we were multitasking.
Sense of Control
We have a good sense of control in flow, even if we’re not consciously thinking about it. We feel capable, unstoppable, and able to achieve anything. In fact, the science bears out that those who naturally feel a higher sense of control in their life experience flow more often than those who do not.
Loss of self-consciousness
We’ll go into the why a little bit more tomorrow, but one of the primary markers of flow state is this idea that our inhibitions are lessened and our self-consciousness disappears. That voice in our head that says we shouldn’t, couldn’t do the thing we want to do is gone, and that frees up our mental capacity for room to flourish. Our ego is no longer driving the bus, our joyful, creative mind is.
Transformation of time
When we’re doing something that suddenly seems to bend the impression of time—speeds it up, slows it down, or makes it disappear altogether—we’re potentially stepping into flow. Time and its perception remains one of the most commonly reported aspects of experiencing “the zone.”
“Autotelic” is simply a fancy way of saying “doing for the sake of it.” Creating, moving, absorbing something just for the sake of it, not for any perceived reward or expectation or box-checking. You know the feeling—when someone asks you why you did something, and you say, “well I don’t really know, I just did it because it felt good” or “I wanted to.” There’s beauty and freedom in this experience of doing something simply for the sake of it!
Now consider how you might begin to isolate any of these conditions in your everyday life—they become wonderful opportunities for kicking ourselves into a flow state intentionally.
Houston, E. (2020.) 11 Activities and Exercises to Induce a Flow State (+ 6 Examples). PositivePsychology.com