Finding your state of flow.
You may be familiar with the state of 'flow' that gets spoken about a lot these days. All the great composers, artists and athletes of our time often reference entering into a state of flow while engaged in their chosen field. You lose track of time, you're hyper-focused on the task at hand, it's challenging but you rise to the occasion. It's a weird state of bliss. Something I've realised through instructing art classes - some people have never experienced flow. So I'm here to help encourage you to get there, if you've never been there before or if you're struggling to get back there.
I watched a video by the The Nerdwriter this week that really hit the nail on the head for me. To enter a state of flow, firstly you must be engaging in an activity that has inherent value. You enjoy doing it for the sake of doing it, not for any particular outcome. For example, even though I enjoy cooking - I mostly enjoy cooking because I love eating. I probably wouldn't love cooking if I didn't eat what I made. Therefore, cooking probably doesn't have inherent value for me. What has inherent value to others may not have inherent value to you. And vice versa. So figure out what it means for you.
Once you've found an activity that makes you feel good, the journey towards achieving flow begins. Now, I am a sucker for charts and infographics. Again, thank you Nerdwriter for this gem. And on the journey to flow, there are a few paths to avoid. Worry and anxiety in particular are not areas I want to be in. As an art instructor, I often see beginners wander in to my class looking absolutely terrified. Why? Because they perceive painting as challenge level moderate to high, and their skill level as being low. Putting them in the yucky zones on the chart.
It's only after they begin painting, and following my instruction, that they move over into the arousal area of the chart. The perceived challenge level is still high, but they're starting to feel like their skill level is coming up to speed. Eventually they realise that the painting isn't as hard as they thought, and they start to drop into relaxation. It often takes a few classes before any of them manage a state of flow, but once they do, they keep coming back for more. They'll say "Erika, the time went by in the blink of an eye!" That's the sweet spot right there. Even though they brought snacks and a bottle of wine, they barely touched them. Becoming absorbed, yet relaxed, yet focused. Completely aware or what you're doing and completely unaware of everything else.
It's super satisfying to guide people into a state of flow every day. And I swear, by the look on their faces at the end of the class - I can tell that some people have never experienced flow before. Ever. In their whole lives. And it brings me great joy to help them discover that feeling. If you're not sure what activities have inherent value for you - cultivate them. Nurture them. Maybe you like bush walking but haven't done it in years. Use that as a starting point, get really good at it. I, myself, find it very easy to get into a state of flow. Doing all sorts of things. The key is to be in the moment and really enjoy the task at hand. Easier said than done, for some. Maybe it's knitting, colouring in, boxing, video editing, writing, cooking, singing, dancing, rock climbing - anything. Go for it.