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There was no distraction. Hours flew by in minutes, but time was almost irrelevant because you were making such beautiful use of it. You were fully inhabiting the moment.
What were you doing in that moment? Can you remember?
If you’re lucky (or more likely if you’ve designed your life that way) that moment was today.
And every day.
Being in your ‘FLOW’ Zone is blissful. Most of us remember those standout moments because they’re so intensely pleasurable – and so rare.
But what if being in Flow could be your normal, rather than a gorgeous exception? What if you could remain in your Flow Zone for most of the time AND it would bring you a life of abundance and pleasure?
Sit back and imagine that vividly for a moment. What thoughts pop into your head? Maybe something like:
And so on.
Now focus on this thought:
“The barrier to choosing a life you love is you. The life you live now is based on the choices you’ve made.
YOU are the obstacle that’s preventing you from choosing to do what that you were born to do; the thing you can do better than anyone else. The thing that can make you blissfully content.”
Before you get too depressed at this appalling act of self-sabotage, the fact that you’re doing it to yourself is WONDERFUL news!
If someone else was preventing you from living your potential, you wouldn’t have full control. The only thing in the world you can really hope to control is yourself.
In his book, The Flight of the Eagle, Indian philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti said: “To ask the ‘right’ question is far more important than to receive the answer. The solution of a problem lies in the understanding of the problem; the answer is not outside the problem, it is in the problem.”
Meaning that if the problem lies with you, so does the solution.
I believe one of the key solutions to emotional and psychological issues such as frustration, distress, depression, boredom, anxiety, alienation and self-sabotage lies in discovering and living in your Flow Zone.
This means recognising and using your unique talent as much as possible.
I say unique because, although many others might share the theme of your talent, only you can do it in the way that you do it, for and with the particular people, materials or circumstances that resonate with you.
When you’re living in your Flow Zone, it’s not just you that benefits. Everyone you touch is positively affected by your skills, your mood and your example.
When I first did this exercise, I finally recognised that the thing I could do almost effortlessly, and that other people seemed to find mysterious, difficult or impenetrable, was intelligent empathy.
I can connect with what’s going on in people’s minds and get a clear sense of what they might be thinking or feeling. As a result, I can predict with reasonable accuracy what they might say and do in that situation. I understand the demands they’re making and the stories they’re perpetuating.
For many years I felt overwhelmed by this gift because I was TOO empathic. I lacked the second skin needed to protect myself from being hurt by other people’s pain.
But in time I developed that skin and now I can move into my Flow Zone without fear whenever I like.
Despite what the chattering monkey in your head might tell you, there’s part of you that instinctively knows and accepts that you have a very special talent to share, if only you could discover it.
When you identify your THING (or things – there may be more than one, though there won’t be many) that puts you in Flow, acknowledge it. Claim it. Say to yourself:
“(Name it) is my unique talent. I own it and commit to using it for good. And I commit to living in happiness and abundance in my Flow.”
When you find and embrace your unique talent, you won’t need external validation. You won’t need to be praised or recognised. You’ll be perfectly at home with who you are and what you’re doing. To keep doing it will be validation enough for you.
Of course, the paradox is that when you reach that happy state, you’re likely to receive heaps of attention and recognition because people will appreciate your talent and your wonderful air of uplifted calm.
In his book, The Big Leap (which is well worth a read), Gay Hendricks describes the state of being in Flow as one of “serene exuberance”. I love that description – it perfectly captures the feeling that is at once zen-like and full of wonderful energy.
Incidentally, I’m far from being the only person to have recognised that we function at different levels of energy, depending on whether or not we’re using our unique talent. Hendricks calls being in Flow “the Zone of Genius”.
TASK: Find a quiet hour (and if you can’t find one, MAKE one. You’re in charge here).
Before tackling this exercise, give yourself explicit permission to suspend judgement and self-criticism. If you hear your inner radio announce: “Who the hell does she think she is, going around bragging that she’s naturally gifted at something?” just thank the voice and tell it firmly that it’s not needed. Then let it go. Don’t fall into the trap of beating yourself up for beating yourself up.
And try not to over-analyse. Often the first thing that comes to mind is an instinctive response – listen to that instinct, it’s your unconscious mind talking.
Now answer these questions in your Mindset Journal:
Think laterally about your Flow Zone. NB: this is not an exhaustive list:
When you come up with something you’re really good at, double check by asking yourself whether there’s a special quality that drives that ability. Your Flow Zone may be the subtle hidden talent that powers something more obvious.
In the next post, I’m going to look at how you can start to orient your life so that you spend more of your time in Flow.
In the meantime, if you already know your Flow Zone, or if you’ve identified it through this exercise, congratulations! Let me know in the comments below.