Why Getting to Flow is Crucial Now

This morning I’m writing to you from Guyana, South America. I am here doing service by volunteering to coach the Women’s National Team as they participate in the World Cup Qualifiers. Guyana is an emerging country. It doesn’t have the resources that other soccer federations have and the role of women is not that of equal status. I choose this as my service to give back to my birthplace and also because it helps restore me. It fills my cup when I’m worn out and tired and have lost the bounce in my step. And let’s be honest, a lot of us could use restoration right now.

I choose the word RESTORE intentionally because the quality I’m describing is different from relaxing

I love coaching, teaching, mentoring and improving organizations and my community. Coaching soccer is not work for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pushing myself and everyone around me here to be excellent. We are dialed-in and following a rigorous training schedule. It’s on my mind round the clock right now.

I am in a state of FLOW

 

Psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, introduced us to Flow. It's the mental state of being fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

I want to introduce the possibility of using your vacation or committing chunks of free time this year to dig in to flow to restore yourself.

During the past two years, many of us have found ourselves in the COVID languishing state.

Just this week I had a conversation with an athlete—a high performer who was worn out and tired and couldn’t get motivated to train. I see it on my campus with our students whose efforts are waning and just in general around me. People’s tempers are shorter. We’ve been restricted. We've been stifled. We've been bored. We’ve been lonely.

This athlete is a wife, a coach, a professional with a second part-time job to make ends meet. As my dad would say, she's burning the candle at both ends. And when she had a moment to catch her breath, she wanted to do absolutely nothing.

The problem is: doing nothing doesn’t restore you. Restoration is about filling your cup back up with the things that give you joy and fill your soul so that you can go again to empty your tank. Relaxing just stops your tank from emptying. It doesn’t fill it back up.

I propose that instead of escaping your home office to lay around somewhere else, go find your flow and improve the lives of others. I re-energize during breaks from my work by doing the things I love just for the joy of doing it well and for those who need and appreciate my expertise. Or use your time away to learn something completely novel. Over the past few summers, I’ve been trying white water canoeing.

Instead of seeking relaxation on your next holiday, seek restoration.

Emotionally speaking, these are steps you can take to move yourself out of a state of languishing. By stimulating the emotions of interest and excitement, you will naturally change your own mood. Your brain chemistry (dopamine) will actually benefit. This better mood will linger and it will be contagious. 

Identify what gets you in the groove of flow. Find an organization that pairs with your passion and expertise. Or finally take the time to learn that skill you’ve wished you had—immerse yourself. Even if it's just for an hour a week.

Give of yourself, your time, your talent, your resources or your vacation. Improve yourself. Spread that contagious emotional state of joy with others. Bring your friends. Synergy is powerful. Let’s work together to change the emotional environment from fear and loneliness to hope and excitement.

 

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