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Creative Flow

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Mysterious but Explainable! 

Defying inertia to attain the highest mastery of a skill or an art is magical.  You would agree with me that it is quite, a mysterious phenomenon but explainable. 

Quickly, let us have a flash back – remember the first time you touched the piano with the intention to play?  Alternatively, the first time the fine artiste in you prompted you to pick up your bristles and paint a drawing.  Alternatively, the ever first time you found an inspiration to write. 

Amidst the distractions; perhaps you were batting with an emotional challenge; or, you were held to ransom by the greatest distraction of all time – your internet connected smartphone; yet, you reassured yourself you would not give in to these push and pulls.  You relentlessly pressed for perfection, ignoring the diversion. 

Now, compare so far with what you have been able to achieve in that sphere of endeavor.  Then, as a burgeoning writer, you were just a tyro with a biro; but now, your consistency has paid off, you have earned a reputation as a “Pen Lord.”  It goes for all other sphere of human endeavor whether painting, music or science – you used to be a novice; now, you belong to the primus inter pares (first among equals). 

The point I am making is simple.  You have been able to achieve that remarkable feat because beyond the rubbles of distraction and life’s pressure, you became creative.  You manage to find your flow every time you set out to perform a task; the product of which piled up into making you what you are today – a success. 

What is a Flow?

When you hear the word flow, naturally, your mind paints the picture of a water body moving along a defined path.  Yes!  Flow, like water cascading down a steep hill, unhindered and barricaded relates to a mental condition of being completely engrossed in an activity or task in the psychological sense.  It is the complete state of being immersed or carried away by an act such that your knowledge of time becomes defeated because you find satisfaction in what you are doing.  You enjoyed it and never want to stop.  In the informal parlance, flow has often been used interchangeably with words like “getting into the zone” or “into the hot spot”.

Affirming the importance of a flow to the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment in life, Csikszentmihalyi Mihaly, an authority in the field of psychology and author of the book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience emphasized, “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…  The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”  The best moments are those times you attain a state of flow, which then becomes your boulevard to creativity. 

Personality Differentials 

Finding your creative flow is that oblivious realm of life that echoes the importance of apt concentration reinforced by an unrelenting drive to attain perfection regardless of distraction.  It is a concatenation of mind and psyche activities perfectly coordinated and targeted towards doing something seemingly difficult in the most idyllic manner or achieving an impossible feat.  Interestingly, this is not something everyone can do but it is what everyone is capable of doing.  This accounts for why, though there are many people in a profession, only few are regarded as the grand masters because of the creative insight they bring to bear.

In addition, a study by Mihaly revealed the complexities involved in attaining the level of a creative flow and how it differs from one individual to another.  By studying different categories of personalities, the study revealed that neurotic personalities are less likely to experience a flow because they are emotionally and mentally unstable.  On the other hand, conscientious personalities are more likely to attain a creative flow every time they embark on a task.  This is because these set of people are goal-oriented, emotionally stable and create time to practice a difficult task until they gain a mastery of it. 

Get into the Flow Zone

It is not easy to attain a level of creative flow especially for those who find it difficult to concentrate, but it is possible.  Attaining a state of creative flow is intentional.  You just have to consciously prepare for it by creating the conditions that would stir up your flow.  These conditions include; 

  • work in a blissful environment 

The environment you intend to work matters a lot.  It must be stripped of all opportunities for possible interruption.  You must move away from the crowd to a serene space where your thinking would be optimal

  • Shut your mind 

Train your mind to shut itself against distractions when undertaking a task.  This can be mastered by deliberately exposing yourself to distractions.  For instance, you could play a loud music during a task just to tame your mind to focus.  Mind you, this is a very risky business as you might lose your focus at the slightest distraction.  It requires engaging your whole mind to be able to achieve this feat; nothing should be left out.  

  • Create ample time

You must above every other thing, create enough time to perform the task.  If it requires learning a skill, you have to learn; if it requires practicing all over and over again, you have no choice but to do this. 

  • Know what works for you

We are unique individuals configured in certain ways.  Understand your mood and emotional state before venturing on that task.  Know the right time to work and when not to.

 

In conclusion, the benefits of finding your flow cannot be overemphasized.  It includes a sense of fulfillment, happiness and a sound mind.  What then are you waiting for? 

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