We have all experienced moments in our lives where everything just comes together in some almost magical way –whether playing music, participating in a sport, or just getting totally absorbed in a project. These moments are timeless, effortless, completely free of worry and delicious! As described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, this is “flow” and is often a hallmark of exemplary performance –whether it is Michael Jordan scoring 50 points in a basketball game, or someone rising to a challenge that they never thought they would be able to handle.
We’re lucky if we get into this “flow state” a few times in our entire lives. Is this flow state that hard to achieve? Is it more accessible to all of us than we think? And are we the only barrier that is keeping us getting into flow?
Judson Brewer MD PhD, an addiction psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Yale University outlines several common ways that we get in our own way. Using examples such as Lolo Jones tripping on a hurdle in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and smokers resisting their cravings, he describes how we can get caught up in thinking, as well as resisting our own body sensations as ways that we prevent ourselves from performing optimally, in whatever situation arises.