THE SECRET CHEAT CODE FOR FINDING YOUR FLOW
Excuse me, Flow?
Ask any one who grew up playing the 1980s video game, Contra, and they should be able to recite the following code: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, back, select, start. Entering this sequence gave the player 99 “lives” to start the game (opposed to just 3), becoming one of the original “cheat codes.” Although not a true “code,” simply even using the player Bo Jackson in the vintage game, Tecmo Super Bowl, was also practically “cheating.” Virtually unstoppable, Jackson possessed the ability to score a touchdown 88% of the time he was handed the ball. Video game designers believed that Bo Jackson's innate athletic ability allowed him to consistently perform better than the rest; however, as video games progressed into the 1990s, developers understood that just like in real life, anyone could get “hot” at the right moment.
In the retro video game, NBA Jam, after a player makes several consecutive baskets, he is deemed to be “On Fire!” The ball then turns into flames, which apparently doesn't burn the player's hands, because for a short period of time he cannot miss! In actual life, this optimal state of human performance is known as “flow” or sometimes referred to as “the zone.” Those who experience flow have reported feeling “invincible,” “powerful,” “in total command of the game”, and “performing in the absence of fear with the utmost confidence” while characteristics of flow include experiencing the following: intense focus, complete awareness of one's surrounding, a loss of self-consciousness, the feeling of control over the situation, distortion of time, and self motivation.
Unfortunately, there isn't a ”flow button” to push in real life; however, activities such as mindfulness training have been found to increase the amount of time a performer spends in flow. To practice mindfulness, you don't need to sign up for a seminar or spend money on a retreat. Try utilizing these Mindurance tips throughout your day and become your own “cheat code”.
- Walking- When you wake up in the morning, take a moment to feel your feet as they make contact with the floor. Instead of thinking about everything you must do that day, focus on “where your feet are.” Take a few seconds to engage in gratitude or perform a quick body scan.
- Breathing- Close your eyes and try to focus on nothing else but your breathing. If your mind starts to wander (and it will), simply bring your attention right back to your breath using the formula 6-2-7 (inhaling for 6 seconds, holding for 2 seconds, and exhaling for 7 seconds). Shoot for 10 repetitions performed 2-3 times throughout the day.
- Eating- Rather than scarfing down your meal or eating on the run, take a moment to enjoy and savor your food. Observe it in your mouth, noticing its texture, and bring your mind to it as you chew.
- Talking- If you ever catch yourself not engaged in conversation or thinking about something else, use self talk statements such as “right here, right now” which can bring your attention back to the task at hand.