Day 5: Go with the Flow or Finding your soul purpose in what you already know
Recently I’ve been listening to the Book Living with FLOW by Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi and what is amazing me the most is the validation. I think that everything that I’m reading is filling me with that “I knew it!” kind of feeling… or that “Finally someone else has seen it!” and in the end I realize that all of my favorite authors are really speaking about the same thing, they are just using different words.
Words are important.
Words mean different things to different people.
Sometimes I struggle with words and I don’t know why. Actually, it seems more and more when I say “shoe” the other person seems to be saying “sneaker”. Sure they’re both footwear, but are they the same? Do you see what I mean? There isn’t a big difference in my mind about a Shoe vs. a Sneaker but there is a difference. And in some conversations that difference may make a big difference, like I would never enter a race, wearing a shoe.
Funny thing about words is that we all think that we all have the same meaning for them. We all think that by saying “shoe” we will all know what each other’s intention is. We have an agreement to understand the language, but the meaning is completely unique to each person. I picked the example of Sneaker vs. Shoe because I don’t have much of an emotional attachment to those words, and I don’t know many people that do. What if I had used these similar words?
Money vs Wealth
Mom vs. Mother
Dad vs. Father
Vacation vs. Time off
Work vs. Job
Child vs. Kid
My almost teenage daughters are the masters of using the right words with the wrong tone of voice. They argue with each other without actually “saying” anything inappropriate. Sometimes we do the same thing to ourselves. We say the right things, but we don’t have the right “feeling” behind what we’re saying. Does that make sense? It’s like deciding that you will think positive and you start to really say all the right things, and each time you look in the mirror and say, “I am beautiful” you feel the opposite. Sometimes it’s not easy to find the positive word that has the matching emotion. Use the words that you can FEEL correctly.
If money feels negative, if it makes you think and feel the stress of lack or makes you think about upcoming bills, substitute it for words like abundance, or finances, or wealth. (I am smiling to myself thinking about how I would say something like, “I’m working on my personal wealth portfolio” because it is a sentence that has no powerful negative feelings for me and in fact, is a little silly.
So, all of that is to say, that the book Living with Flow the author wants you to think about those moments, when you are so engrossed in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. “The experience itself is so enjoyable that you do it for the sheer sake of doing it. Consciousness is harmoniously ordered. Your attention is singularly focused like a laser beam”
We all have or have had those moments. Our challenge today is to remember them and try to find them in our life today.
Ask Yourself these questions:
When was the last time I did something that completely absorbed my attention in such an intense way that I stopped noticing my surroundings?
When was the last time that I did something where my skills had become so practiced that everything seemed to come naturally, spontaneously and effortlessly?
What is the activity that I would typically be doing when I feel this way?
Some people will have a harder time answering these questions, but I believe that we have all experienced the feeling of FLOW.
Here’s where words and their finicky meanings come in and play games. I’m saying flow, but I could just as easily say inspiration, the vortex, pure potentiality, creativity, brainstorm, revelation, divine intervention, and yes, soul purpose.
These words aren’t just words, they are a feeling. They each carry meaning and emotion. It’s up to you to decide which word you will use to become the masterpiece of your life. To become the architect of your existence and the building block for joy.
Today you are going to start to rewrite how you feel about your moments. Today you are going to practice that thing where you lose yourself for moments and hours in the creative power of the universe. Today you are going to remember what it feels like to be part of something bigger, the better part of you.
According to Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi there are 8 components of enjoyment.
- Clear Goal – This is particularly validating for me because while I may not always reach each goal, I have always believed that without a destination I feel like a sugar ant just wandering aimlessly on the counter looking for a spilled morsel. The goal, like a pinpoint on a map provides clarity and guidance even if it just implies a direction.
Remember the last time you were in the vortex of your pure potential? You had a goal. You wanted to complete or create something specific that you could imagine. That is all you need for a clear goal. Your imagination. Sometimes goals seem overwhelming, no problem. Set that big goal, then work backwards and break it down into smaller more manageable goals.
- Feedback – This is the ability to measure whether you’re getting closer to your goal. Sports are great examples, because you know whether the game is almost over, or not nearly over, you also know whether you hit the ball well, or are performing well. If you are a painter or a gardener or writer or Mom, your goals help you work against a deadline which helps you measure your progress. Which in turn allows you to provide yourself with the feedback you need to enjoy what you are doing.
There is also negative feedback. There will always be other people that will resist your movement towards joy. Sometimes they think they are doing it for your own good, sometimes they just want to take control over your situation. This is where you goal is the most powerful, because in almost all cases, your goal is not to make that one other person happy. Right? Most people that interject negative comments or energy into a situation are trying to take control and this isn’t about them. They can have their opinions and make their comments, you have a goal which has nothing to do with them.
- Challenges Match Skills – Setting attainable but challenging goals is the key. If you decide to achieve something that’s too easy, you’ll get bored. If you decide to set a goal that is too difficult you may get frustrated, the idea behind finding the maximum amount of enjoyment in anything is that it draws from your current skillset. You have a creative or logical or athletic power that with the right goal and measurement you can turn into sheer joy!
- Concentration – You will agree that when you are experiencing the moments of inspiration you are most likely to be concentrating your energy in a single ray of intense concentration. You are devoted to the task in front of you and feel accomplishment and inner harmony as it unfolds. Too often, throughout the day we are starting and stopping and starting and stopping our attention and we are left with the feeling of half done frazzledness. (my new word) Concentration is our reward for our intentional attention to our creative force and our desire to reach out goal.
- Focus – This may seem similar to concentration but in reading the book Living in Flow I understand the difference. The author wants us to recognize the difference between our intentional attention (concentration) and the result (focus). With focus we release our attachment to the things like stress, frustration, and allow the relief that is found mostly in the present moment. The time when we aren’t thinking about future problems or past frustrations but rather, experiencing the “now”.
- Control – This aspect is really more about recognizing the possibilities of control, more than actually having control. If you had complete control, then there would be no challenge, and a challenge to your skill set is still a requirement, so this aspect really speaks to your ability to see the challenge, believe in your ability to overcome and in the end have control.
- Loss of Self-Consciousness – This is the piece that I love. The piece where we lose our inhibitions and we stop telling ourselves, “I’m not good enough”, “Why would anyone read my book” or “Why would anyone listen to me” or “Why should I even try” and we just dive into the pool of our creativity and swim towards the goal, passing the markers of feedback, challenge, concentration, focus and control and releasing ourselfs to the sense of “self-transcendence”
- Transformation of time – This is where the hours may seem like minutes. This is where you look up and realize that the last few minutes have really been hours, or seconds minutes.
Cool right? I feel like I knew this list my whole life, however it’s clear that I didn’t, or more of my time doing the things that I do may have been molded differently. Do you agree? Seeing the list brings clarity right? I imagine, that we have all started something that we thought would bring us joy, only to find that we either got bored ( no challenge) or never “got it” (no defined goal) or maybe just quit (no feedback or negative feedback)
So, today I want you to daydream. I want you to rehearse and think about these 8 components in this order. I want you to think about a goal, then how it can be measured, then the skills you have to reach the goals as well as the skills you will need to develop… You get it right, go down the list!
VISUALIZE that Dream (you know the difference between a dream and a goal? A goal has a deadline) 🙂
Visualize this whole process until you can’t wait to start. Then. Start something.