Creating Flow Experiences
When it’s Clicking it Feels Great!
“Clicking” describes action-based flow experiences. We love these experiences because they feel so good when we’re in them, and because action-based flow experiences produce desired results, they also feel very satisfying and fulfilling when we are done with the activity.
At some point in our lives, we all come to the sobering conclusion that there will always be more that we would like and need to do, than we have time to do. This is important to get a handle on, because to increase the number of times we are clicking along at a satisfying pace, we need to have confidence that what we are currently doing is in line with what we value the most, and is meeting our most current need in a connective, positive and productive way.
Achieving this confidence is challenging, because it requires a clear understanding of our basic human needs, the virtues we need to live by to meet each other’s needs, and the life skills we need to practise to:
1) consistently grow in our ability to access our heart wisdom (so we know what is best to do);
2) strengthen our ability to access our heart’s empowerment (to engage the virtuous qualities needed to enact our wise choices).
The more adept we become in accessing our heart’s wisdom and empowerment, the more connective flow experiences we are able to create both for ourselves, as well as others when we are working and relating with them. One of our heart’s roles is to guide us into the awareness of how to consistently live harmoniously within ourselves and with others, for without this harmony — we are unable to create flow experiences. Thus, when living by the guiding wisdom of our heart, we find ourselves living within the parameter guidelines of the virtues; and this naturally creates more flow experiences in our lives.
Understanding this is so helpful, because to increase the amount of flow experiences we have requires balance and orderliness in our lives. In order for flow, balance, and orderliness to even exist requires parameters — the guideline rules within which a system’s activities are directed. A river is a water system that requires riverbanks. The riverbanks set the parameters within which the river system can exist and flow. No river banks, no river. No parameters in our life, no flow experiences.
Five Principles and Tips for Creating Heart-Directed Flow
1) Develop Infrastructure and Maintenance Routines
By developing adequate infrastructure in your life, which includes routines to maintain that infrastructure, you can spend much less time deciding what you should be doing, and much more time doing what you have already decided is best. In so doing, we increase our flow experiences.
2) Monitor Your Speed
Don’t attempt to go faster than you can handle in the moment. If you find yourself making mistakes, it’s a clear sign that you are either not adequately focusing on what you are doing, or you are trying to go too fast.
3) Engage Your Manager-Self
Gaining control of our consciousness, and being able to maintain that control on a consistent basis, is the greatest challenge any of us faces. This is so because we all have an ego that frequently attempts to pull our attention away from what our heart is guiding us to do. As well, left on its own, our mind is often very unruly and will easily “wander” away from the task at hand. This inevitably hinders our productivity. So a little trick I frequently engage to prevent the “wandering mind” is to employ my “Manager Self”.
My Manager-Self wants results, and knows that keen focus on the task at hand is key to achieving desired results. So, if I find my attention wandering, or if I feel stuck on what to do next, or on how to solve a problem, I begin a dialogue with myself wherein my Manager-Self begins consciously directing my Doing-Self. During these dialogues, my Manager-Self gives specific instructions to my Doing-Self in bite-size pieces, and my Doing-Self responds to my Manager-Self’s instructions through both words and actions. This dialogue keeps my Doing-Self productively engaged, which creates flow. Because these dialogues are engaging, they are both interesting and increase focus, and this combination is entertaining to our brain. When our brain is being entertained, it stays clicked in — connected; thus, it is much less likely to stray from what it is currently finding interesting.
4) Master HCR Life Skill 10: L-AAB – Leave-No-Mess
Note: This section on HCR Life Skill 10 has been adapted from my book.
The L-AAB acronym (explained ahead) refers to a very effective thought/action work habit practice. I developed this Life Skill practice to help embed the good habit of being cognizant of efficiency of motion when engaged in tasks, which is key to creating flow experiences. Mastering the L-AAB Life Skill leads to consistently completing what you start, which includes cleaning up after tasks, and putting all things we have used away (in their rightful place) upon finishing with them.
Such a practice is needed because most of us have this tendency: we cook, do paperwork, yard work, laundry, etc., and then leave a little (or big) mess behind. In other words, we tend to neglect finishing the job.
These deficient work habits cause many frustrations (the opposite of clicking), both to ourselves and to the people we live and work with who depend upon us to do our part so that everyone can live in a peaceful, orderly environment. Messes left behind cause many avoidable delays and mistakes. These can raise stress levels, which often cause us to be short-tempered with each other — resulting in relationship conflicts. Better work and living habits prevent these negative outcomes from happening, and thus result in many more flow experiences.
The L-AAB Thought/Action Syntax
The L-AAB acronym represents the following: Look Ahead; Look At; and Look Back. So each stage of the L-AAB practice begins with “Look”. Here’s how it works. Before you begin doing a task, engage the virtue of foresight — Look Ahead: think through the task you are about to do and prepare for it.
Make sure of the following three things:
1) You have what you need to do the task at hand.
2) What you need is where you need it to be.
3) The space you need to work in is prepared and clear of clutter.
Then, once you begin your task, Look At what you are doing. Focus your full attention on the task at hand. Present moment focus helps us to: 1) do a better job; 2) work more efficiently; and 3) develop a clearer memory of what we’ve done. All of these are conducive to clicking into and maintaining flow experiences.
The last stage of the L-AAB practice is Look Back: once you’re finished doing something (and I’m not just referring to the whole of a task, but also to each small task that makes up a larger task), Look Back to make sure you have left no mess behind.
It is easy to recognize the value of the L-AAB practice; yet doing it consistently is quite a mental challenge. However, like any valuable skill, the more we practise, the better we get, and the more flow experiences we create when engaging that skill.
5) Prioritize Based Upon Achieving Balanced Needs Fulfillment
When the most important tasks we undertake have been carefully weighed in terms of their impact on both our own and others’ overall needs-fulfillment, it causes us to feel good about what we are doing —which is vital to creating flow experiences.
This is the reason I highly recommend setting aside at least an hour per week to reflect upon your overall needs fulfillment. By doing this regularly, you will gain ever-increasing clarity on where it would be best to focus your time and energy in the upcoming week. Effective Reflection & Review Practices help us to get into flow when we are setting goals and developing strategies to achieve our goals. The more effectively we do this, the more clicking, needs-fulfilling flow experiences we create for ourselves and others — especially those we love and relate with the most.