When I tell people that I’ve sat at a table and drawn for 7 hours straight without standing up to stretch my legs, pee or munch on snacks…they don’t believe it.
My flow state is drawing. According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow state is a state of complete immersion in an activity. He describes the mental state of flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake”. Listen to his TED Talk to learn more about the psychology behind flow state:
The feeling of turning our minds off and truly being present in the moment is the most beautiful part of flow state. I can draw and just give my attention to the task in front of me—sketching doodles, tracing letters and thinking of good color matches. Suddenly, the stress of finding a job or turmoil in a relationship or even the mundane thoughts dissipate—and I’m left in the present moment with my artwork.
I didn’t start a journey to find something that allowed me this gift of flow, but rather kept feeling drawn to drawing for this feeling and energy it gives me. I wasn’t drawing to produce artwork and I never turned it into a goal-oriented process, but instead just kept it as a hobby that filled voids of time in a way that felt happy, positive and fulfilling.
However, not everyone’s as lucky to just find something that allows them to access their flow state—and sometimes, find your own flow state requires a little bit of searching. I believe we’ve all accessed that feeling many times before, but we often forget because those times tend to be when we’re younger without as much care in the world. So, think back to your five year old self—what would they love? I think we are our most purely present selves back in young age because we haven’t learned to be distracted with technology, our own thoughts and other things that take us out of the every day moment.
I’ve always loved doodling even as a little girl—all over my notebooks, on my clothes and even a few times on bathroom stalls (ooooops!) Drawing quotes especially allowed me to really get into a flow state because I didn’t have to spend energy on “what” I was drawing, but rather let the quote come alive with bright colors and little doodles. I even decided to buy a plain gray sweatshirt and doodle ALL over it with my favorite quotes in Sharpies (*embarrassing photo attached*)…and let me tell you, I wore that sweatshirt until the ink faded from it.
So, think back to your younger self—the self that you were before the world tried to tell you to become someone else. What did you love? I’ve asked this question before and I’m always intrigued by the answers because often people tell me about something they used to love (or still love) but aren’t actively pursuing because: A) It doesn’t seem like a “career” or B) Someone at some point made them feel ashamed about it or C) They just forgot…
Leave a comment with your flow state OR your five year old self’s favorite—are they the same or different?