When I’m feeling off, when I’m feeling like I’m not myself, when my energy feels anything other that how I would love to feel…
I fall back on my flow – I fall back on the activities that bring joy and fulfilment. The activities that I enjoy doing just for the sake of doing.
Last Sunday I was feeling heavy. Cloudy headed. I spent the previous day sitting in bed catching up on work. It was awesome, I had a lot of fun, but the next day I felt drained.
So, I fell back on my flow habits. I went for a 45 minute walk. Then I went for a run. Then ate a good meal. Then went and got myself a fat dose of flow by hitting the Slackline for an hour or so.
I remarked to myself afterwards how strikingly different I felt. How much BETTER I felt. Like a new person. Refreshed, re-energized. Re-invigorated.
It made me realize and appreciate the importance of getting myself a fat flow session. When I get myself into flow, I feel dramatically better afterwards. It’s like my body needed it. It’s a giant exhale of relief for the system (thanks neurochemical cocktail of flow!)
It was a reminder that if I’m feeling off and cloudy headed I should fall back on the activities that bring me genuine flow. When I’m not feeling like I’m in the right state of mind, I need to get myself into flow.
So for example when I got home from work today I was feeling low energy. Tired. A bit drained.
So what did I do?
I thought to myself, “let’s get into flow!” and I sat down at my computer and began to write this very article right here right now.
Immediately as I grabbed my computer I became excited. I swelled with anticipation to write these very words hitting the screen right now.
It’s such a beautiful experience!
Already I feel better. I feel energised. The topics of what I want to write on keep popping up. I discard sentences along the way. I jump around. I go on divergent tangents. I dance to the music I’m playing.
As I write it’s a reminder of enjoying the process. It’s not about writing a specific blog post from beginning to end, it’s about WRITING! Enjoying this very process right here right now of typing words onto the screen.
Doing it because it makes me feel better to do it and I get joy and fulfilment from it. It’s autotelic. “Autotelic” is a fancy way of saying that the activity in and of itself is the purpose. The activity itself is what provides you with joy, rather than the end result.
And that’s really what the journey of flow is all about. Finding the autotelic activities. The activities and experiences that feel so good that you want to do them over and over again. The activities where you don’t care about the end result because the end result is the activity in and of itself. It’s fulfilling to do the simple act of doing.
It’s funny how I can also differentiate what brings me flow vs. What I just do because I know it’s good for me. What I call “white knuckling vs autotelic”.
I go for a run not because it gets me flow, but because I know it’s good for me. I force myself to do it because I know it’s a necessary evil. Same thing with yoga. Breathing exercises. Hell, even meditation. Despite how much I meditate, I don’t look forward to meditating. I don’t say to myself, “YES I GET TO MEDITATE FOR AN HOUR RIGHT NOW!!!” No, I have to drag my ass to sit down and do it because I know it will make me feel better after.
HOWEVER, when it comes to the Slackline or writing? I could do this shit for hours on end. You have to pull me away from with a forklift to get me to stop. I’ve never once said to myself, “ah damn I have to go Slackline right now”.
I can’t say that I’ve never had that thought with writing (I often have to force myself to do it), but once I get started I don’t stop. Most of the time I don’t write because I feel like I don’t have ENOUGH time. I don’t want to try and sit down for just 30 minutes and crank something out in between tasks like a productivity nutcase. I want HOURS. I want to sit at my keyboard and type until my brain reaches the sense of finality it reaches when I know I’m done for the day. I don’t want a time limit.
Why? Because the experience is autotelic. Doing the activity is what brings me joy, rather than the end result. The process is the result I crave.
And to me, that’s really the definition of flow. Finding your autotelic activities that bring you joy. The activities you can enjoy to do for hours on end and talk to people about because it’s what you live and breathe. The activities you fall back on when you’re feeling off because they give you a feeling that the rest of the world doesn’t exist and this is the only thing in the world you want to do.
That’s why I fall back on my flow. When I’m off, when the energy needs a shift, I need a fat dose of flow. It’s a habit I can fall back on because it’s the medicine I need.
And just like that, just like the beautiful waves of flow, I can sense that I have made my point and the article has come to a close. I fell back on my flow, and I feel all the better for doing it 🙂