Flow is a simple and wonderful approach to your daily life that allows you to fight stress and also pay full attention to yourself in order to be happier.
Mihály Csikszentmihályi, one of the most well-known specialists in the study of the psychology of happiness, is the person who coined the phrase “flow.”
Thanks to his many books and other works that emphasize the need to reach states of calm and “positive experiences,” millions of people have managed to feel more focused and relaxed in their work and responsibilities.
In our space, we want to invite you to learn a little more about this interesting trend so that you can gradually integrate it into your life, undoing that smothering knot of stress.
Flow, a state of inner calm to achieve the joy of life
For Mihály Csikszentmihályi, happiness would actually be a state of “flow.” That is, achieving a state of inner harmony where you find yourself at peace with something that’s concrete.
If you look for a moment at what stress really is, you’ll realize that it’s the opposite of “flow.” It’s being trapped, stranded, and tied down to a number of different circumstances.
Putting it another way, you become captive to your fears, worries, or responsibilities.
- Stress keeps you from advancing. Day after day you’re bound to the same things.
- Stress makes you believe that you’ll never reach what you’re aiming for: you don’t have enough time.
- There are never enough hours in the day to reach and accomplish your goals.
- Your brain processes stress by preparing your body to flee or to escape from a perceived threat.
- Your mind stops being able to understand rest and internal balance because it isn’t allowed to relax. You are always alert, tense, and your gaze is fixed on tomorrow and what you must accomplish.
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All of these are clear enemies of the concept of flow, which we’ll explain below.
Learn to enjoy whatever you do
You know that there are countless different techniques to fight stress. But one thing is clear: no one can simply leave their job, nor can you “kick out” your family.
These are the two areas where stress, tension and anxieties are almost always focused.
You can do breathing exercises, go for walks, and even try prescription medications from your doctor to reduce stress, but a mental approach that allows you to see your reality in a different way will always be more effective.
That’s why you should try to learn to flow…
- The motion of “flow” implies that you need to approach things differently and learn to enjoy them. It means, above all, that you need to slow down the pace and be present. To do this, you also need to learn to set priorities.
- A person who learns to flow reaches a positive emotional state and maximum concentration. They feel good about what they do, allowing them to release the tension and move away from stress.
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How to get the “flow” rolling
Let’s be clear that it’s not possible to starting “flowing” at your job overnight if you have a lot of stress. Ideally you will start in other areas of your life to achieve this state of calm.
Once you begin, you can expand the scope. Here are some examples of how:
- Find a hobby that you like and that suits your personality. People who paint, for example, achieve this state of calm and peace very quickly, plus it’s pleasant.
Painting watercolor, charcoal, or even mandalas can certainly be very therapeutic. Ideally you’ll find time to do this every day for at least an hour.
- Another option that usually has good results is to practice what’s known as “flow yoga.” This type of yoga started in India but quickly became popular in the United States, and then the rest of the world.
Flow yoga is more physical and intense, incorporating natural sounds or mantras as you develop strength, flexibility and balance. It’s very energizing and usually ends with a final relaxation that connects you with your inner self.
Flow in your daily life and fight stress
Engaging in activities like yoga, painting mandalas, or any other task that relaxes you and lets you “focus” will help you gradually learn to apply this state of calm to other aspects of your life.
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- In turn, the flow will allow you to achieve those things that you set aside or that hurt and hinder you. You’ll learn to prioritize and fight stress and anxiety.
- It always helps to envision your daily life as that of a leaf floating in a river, led along by the relaxing whisper of the stream.
- Its advance is pure equilibrium—nothing is in excess and nothing is lacking. If there is an excess of something it will sink to the bottom.
- Stress, for example, makes you sink. In order to return to the surface and move freely you need to release it, enjoying every minute of your journey.
If this topic interests you, learn more about it from books like “Flow, a Psychology of Happiness” by Mihály Csikszentmihályi.