Flow

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For those of you out there that have a hard time finding flow, tapping into that feeling of ultimate happiness and especially those of you who are business owners this one is for you. I'm reading an incredible book called "Flow" that was recommended to me. When I am on the ocean on my surfboard I can easily sink into this euphoric state called Flow, but struggle to find it while I'm landlocked in my urban life in Calgary. I've been on the quest to find Flow in the months that I'm not on my surfboard for over 4  years. So far, I'm still searching... but I think I'm getting somewhere.

The author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyl describes Flow as:

 "when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile". 

When I surf, I'm in Flow from the moment I strap my leash on, to the moment I hop out of the shower. The authors definition of Flow is exactly what surfing is to me. I am in complete harmony with the present moment, second by second. Free from distraction. Free from expectation. From the demands of others. It's just me. My body and mind, just like Mihaly's definition of flow states, is stretched its limits voluntarily to accomplish something worthwhile. 

Being raised in North America, we are taught to value materialism, consumerism and are pre disposed to how we should live our lives to achieve "happiness". The what that makes up our own perception of happiness or Flow in our lives and the how we are going to get there for the most part have been influenced by the filter in which we see the world through.

My filter started to form early in my life, from what I can remember... around the age of five. Every summer I would "work" at my parents small business at our cabin in Saskatchewan where I would serve pie and ice cream in our restaurant and help out wherever a 5 year old could ;). I would watch my parents work incredibly hard from dawn to midnight every single day from June to September. I am incredibly grateful for the 11 summers I spent helping my family because I learned so much about hard work, running a small business, building community and sacrifice. The downside was that the filter in which I saw achieving ultimate happiness through was purely based on serving the community, through your contribution in what you do, and through business... personal needs come secondary.

So here I am. At a point of major discovery. Over the last 5 years, since becoming a full time business owner, technically I should have been in a Flow state for 10-14 hours per day if the filter in which I perceived ultimate happiness and Flow was actually serving me. If this Filter of serving my community, contributing and being in business would lead to Flow and ultimate happiness why was and am I still feeling the opposite?

It's not to say that Flow or that sense of ultimate happiness cannot be achieved from your work. You might feel like you get "in the zone" or "lose track of time" because you are so excited about what you're doing. I get that, and feel that everyday. I'm very fortunate the my work is incredibly purposeful and rewarding but what I realized is that it's not Flow. Getting into Flow should be based on mastering your subconscious mind, mastering your internal self. Not be based on external factors. Things you can't control, which is where it can get dangerous for us "workaholics" or business owners.

That's where I've landed. After challenging the filter I created in my life, I need to make a change. I've based my Flow and ultimate happiness on what I can do for the world which was extremely dangerous. I have now separated that as my function, not my being. Now I get to figure out what outside of my function can create that Flow state and ultimate happiness.

Okay your turn!

Whether you are a business owner or not, I want you to think about the filter in which you see your experiences in life that create that "flow" like state or happiness.

  1. Is your filter heavily based on external factors or things that are out of your control?
  2. Or the opposite, internally and what you have control over?
  3. Is your filter actually serving you?

Thanks for tuning in! Feel free to leave your comments below, I'd love to hear from you!

Yours truly,

Mal