Hacking Flow State (Ecstasy Without Pingas)

TOP 3 POST INSIGHTS:

  1. Flow: It's like Limitless without Adderall or MDMA 

  2. Increase Happiness and Productivity

  3. 3 Triggers to Hack Flow

Surf Flow

Surf Flow

Bradley Cooper in crunching letters and numbers (Limitless)

Bradley Cooper in crunching letters and numbers (Limitless)

 

If you’ve seen Limitless, read about (or taken) cocaine/ MDMA/ ecstasy, ran an extra 6kms or finished a book in one day, you know what Flow State is.

Time stops, senses are heightened, decisions are seamless and performance improves ten-fold. You're in the zone and you feel invincible. The white coats in the lab call this Flow State. 

 

WHAT IS FLOW STATE?

Flow State is technically described as the ‘optimal state of consciousness where we perform and feel our best.’

It’s the laser focus of a military sniper, the improv random musicians, the 15 minutes of creative ideas, or the magic of a gymnast’s 3 second vault routine. It can happen to anyone in any field.

When we’re in Flow State our mental and physical abilities go through the roof, our brains take in more information per second and we process everything around us more deeply. It’s like Limitless, without Adderall or MDMA.

WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE ECSTASY?

If you’ve ever taken recreational drugs, this might sound familiar. Because it is.

Flow State releases neurological dopamine. The same chemicals found in ecstasy, speed, cocaine, marijuana and heroin. The difference is that A) it’s legal, B) there’s no comedown and C) it’s pocket and body friendly.

But it’s not just for adrenaline junkies. For the last 40 years, psychologist and Flow State pioneer, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi conducted worldwide research to uncover its universal benefits.

BENEFITS

Science has correlated Flow to:

Happiness

We’re happiest when we’re fully immersed in something we love. Flow allows us to take that shit to the next level. Whether it’s surfing a bigger wave, painting blooming flowers outside your window or cooking a 5 layered cake, it’s the intrinsic reward of self-achievement that provides us optimum happiness.  

Productivity and Creativity

In Flow, you’re unconsciously working with the highest concentration. It's effortless and things just fucking work. In a weird way, we are more self-aware of ourselves, allowing us to provide better feedback loops. Like when you had that uni essay due for two weeks but you finished it 3 hours before the deadline (and it was the best essay ever). When we're in Flow, we're one with the activity. Check out the hypnotising Tash Sultana jamming in her bedroom:

Accelerated Learning

Remember when your parents threw you in the pool and you were forced to swim or drown? Something was activated and you fucking swam. Flow forces us to work smarter and unlocks lateral thinking. Whatever position or circumstance we're in, we find a way to get through it. 

Research shows that Flow cuts the myth of 10, 000 hours to master a skill in half, a sniper's precision is 230% more accurate and surfers are now riding waves 10x bigger than 10 years ago. When we're in the zone, our limits crave to be pushed. 

Ultimately, flow state boosts life satisfaction. Who wouldn't want a happier life? (Unless your Daria, she bat shit depressed). 

 

SO HOW CAN YOU HACK FLOW?

There’s a shitload of scientific research on this. For the purposes of saving your eyeballs, I’ve boiled it down to 3 triggers.

1.    SET A CHALLENGE

Adrenaline junkies push the boundaries because it's either Flow or die. 

Writers hit their deadline because they need to pay rent.

Footballers need to make the right decisions to avoid injuries.

To hack flow, there needs to be an element of skill, goal and risk.

  • What's the activity?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What's my biggest fear?

Examples:

(answered as per bullet points)

Running > Marathon > Coming last…. Challenge: Start cardio training and maybe commit to running 10 kms a week.

Public speaking > More confident at work > Throwing up in front on your boss… Challenge: Join Toastmasters and commit to attending at least once a month.

Asking your yoga teacher out > A date > Rejection... Challenge: Practice your Casanova skills by getting two numbers over the weekend

Or maybe paraglide into a moving cable car (not advised):

2. EXPLORE YOUR SENSES

You weren’t given hands to be a paper pusher and you weren’t given ears just to listen to your best friend bitch about her ex-boyfriend for the 987th time. To hack Flow, you need to be attuned with all your senses. When you exercise different senses, you strengthen creative skills. As a result, problem solving and joining the dots come more freely to you -allowing you to stay in Flow longer.

If you don’t know where to start, here's some random examples:

  • Watch a foreign TV series/ movie
  • Listen to an album from a completely different genre
  • Brush your teeth with the opposite hand
  • Take a woodwork or pottery class
  • If you normally lift weights, try a pilates class
  • Write a letter to yourself 10 years from now

The trick is to do shit you wouldn’t normally do. As you start exploring the unfamiliar, you get used to tapping into other areas of your brain/body –making it easier for Flow to catch fire.

3. ENVIRONMENT

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower”
-Alexander den Heijer

Groundhog Day is soul crushing. So next time you're in a rut, consider changing up your physical environment to something weird. Why? Because novelty and unpredictability force you to focus. Ever wonder why you punched out more work at beach café vs the hours chained to your office desk? Environment triggers reignite Flow (or inspire you to get things done quicker).

Here’s some personal examples: 

  • Stand up desk eg. I use the bench top, piano, or place boxes on the kitchen table

  • Work from a random lobby's cafe eg. bank, library, supermarket cafe (totally weird but it works!)

  • Take a hike this weekend instead of hitting the treadmill 

  • Practice yoga in the park

When a familiar activity is performed in a different environment, your performance enhances. Because in that moment, it’s the only thing you can control. You’ll be surprised how much the café at Woolies can activate Flow (yep I’m currently staring at the fruit and veg section).

Trade the treadmill for a hike... your speed & nature's incline. 

Trade the treadmill for a hike... your speed & nature's incline. 

There’s no shortage in human curiosity to feel and perform better. You can either self-destruct (like take heroin or binge eat 7 pizzas), or self-improve (like learn an instrument, volunteer or participate in a triathlon). Whatever it is, it’s driven by our intrinsic motivation to experience euphoria in whatever capacity. 

When you cut the shit, Flow is just your state of mind when you’re in the zone. So leave the pingas to the little hectics, immerse yourself in a new hobby or challenge yourself to push new limits. Go and chase your own version of invincible.