10/17/14 - The Purpose of Life: Flow States
Last night Travis Ishikawa hit a a walk off ninth inning home run to send the San Francisco Giants to the World Series. It’s nearly guaranteed that Travis was in a flow state when he did it. “Flow” is the scientific term coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi for what most call being “in the zone.”
More incredible than the results flow produces (time slowing down, compounded strength, increased speed, better accuracy, perfect reflects, thoughtless excellence, etc) is that the feeling Travis felt as the ball sailed off his bat is available to everyone. Everyday there is more and more science around it, too.
Imagine if you could bottle what Michael Jordan had running though his veins in that famous Game 6 effort or what Danny Way experienced as he vaulted over the Great Wall of China on his skateboard. Even if you haven’t experienced peak performance on the main stage, we’ve all been lost in great conversation, we’ve all zoned out completely on a do-it-yourself project, and we all know about those instances when time stands still with a loved one. That is flow.
The topic has been a focus of mine both athletically and academically, from Csikszentmihalyi’s early work in college to the recent text The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance. If this hasn’t been an interest of yours, it ought to be. There’s good logic to support that flow states are the purpose of life.
It’s in flow that we feel not just peak performance, which is plenty desirable all unto itself, but we feel true self fulfillment, purpose, connectedness, and our bodies ultimate expression of efficiency (both physically and chemically in the brain). Since it takes situations where our greatest challenges are met with the greatest amount of skill to find flow, one could argue that the most magnificent flow states are held only in areas of true passion and behind a large volume of work, like Danny Way on his skateboard or Michael Jordan on the hardwood or exactly what led to Travis Ishikawa’s big moment last night.
Get to know “flow.” Your entire reason for being here depends on it!
PS – Check out the Flow Genome Project here!
Complete the following for time:
1 Mile Run
40 Push Ups
20 Pull Ups
DB Bulgarian Split Squat