I inadvertently found myself in a state of flow while hiking on a family reunion trip atop the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. I stumbled across this feeling while hiking in snow while seeing such amazing views of Palm Springs and the surrounding area. I was with my wife Sarah, my son Ben, and my two nephews, Michael and David. The mission of the day was not to deliberately find my way to a serene happy place. But I found myself there. It happened naturally.
What attributes were present in which I found myself experiencing a state of flow?
- Immersed in the activity
- Positive feeling
- Safe and secure
Notice the first two attributes have to do with focus (i. e. immersed in the activity and being present-focused. You are living in the moment. The next two attributes have to do with emotion. Feelings have to do with emotions. I had a positive feeling and I felt safe and secure. Emotionally I was engaged in a positive way in what we were doing. I had arrived at a state of flow with no definitive plan to get there. But I had arrived, and I spent a lot of time there. The summation of the attributes led me to this state of being.
Are the same attributes present in a competitive arena for a performer (i.e., athlete, singer, musician, etc.) to reach a state of flow? I think yes, they are. For instance, the athlete to experience a state of flow, needs to be immersed in the event, present-focused, have a positive feeling, and feel safe and secure in the moment. The athlete, or a performer in another context, must embrace the challenge or opportunity, and not see the situation as a threat. Too often the athlete or performer gets in their own way. They either lose focus or lose faith in themselves, or both, and then it becomes a game of me and myself against I. There is a battle within you.
If you want to find your way to a flow state, you need to let yourself be free. You need freedom from the chains that bind you. Look inside yourself to discover if something is holding you back. Do you have some insecurities that prevent you from performing with poise, confidence, and conviction? Are you comfortable with your own success? The answers to these questions will enable you to strive to live a version of yourself that will let you perform in a state of flow. Do not hold yourself to perfection. The path to the view from atop the tram will flow more naturally with self-acceptance and self-discovery.