What the Heck is FLOW?
In Short: Flow is the science (psychology) of optimal human
experience. Flow is perhaps better known as 'Getting in the Zone'
among athletes and creative folk.
A Tad Longer: Flow, whether in athletic competition, creative
arts, engaging work, or spiritual practice, is a deep and uniquely
human motivation to excel, exceed and triumph over limitation.
What's the State of Flow like?
Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal
Experience describes flow as, "being completely involved
in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies.
Every action, movement and thought flows inevitably from the
previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and
you're using your skills to the utmost."
Who founded it?
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, noted psychologist and pioneer of the
concept discovered it in his own search for happiness. He wanted to
figure out "how to live life as a work of art, rather than as a
chaotic response to external events." Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced
"chicks sent me high-ee")--I know, awesome last name,
huh?--explains how when you're in a state of flow, anything you're
doing can be truly awesome.
My Favorite Part of Flow
Dr. Csikszentmihalyi's life work has been to study what makes
people 'truly' happy. With the emphasis on truly, which separates
what is commonly associated with happiness such as pleasure, an
emotional state or even flow itself. Rather, the happiness he
points to is the "continual challenge to go beyond oneself as part
of something greater than one's own self interest." Dr.
Csikszentmihalyi's other books involved looking further at flow and
at the bigger picture of human evolution in time and offering a new
paradigm on how human beings can become better versions of
themselves. To someone like me who values, and continually strives
for, self-improvement, the concept of Flow is more than intriguing,
it has become part of my personal philosophy.
SO HOW THE HECK DO I GET INTO THE ZONE??
A visual graph of flow.
Dr. Csikszentmihalyi's flow diagram is above. You will notice
that it takes the right blend of challenge and skills to produce
the right environment for flow to occur. It was quite enlightening
and accurate of my own experiences. Give someone a task that
requires no skill but is overly challenging and they get anxiety.
Think most entry 9-5 jobs. Give them a task that requires vast
skills but isn't very challenging and your bored out of your mind.
Think of a doctor's office with only one patient to treat a day.
Boring. However, rocking it like goldilocks, 'just right,' primes
the person to enter a unique state (FLOW) where their current skill
set is maximized and their brain is fully engaged on an equally
The really fascinating part I noticed about the graph, and one
that Dr. Csikszentmihalyi notes in his book, is the need to
increase challenges or skills to get back in the flow zone. For
instance, when a particular task becomes too mundane (you've
figured it out now) or when the challenge escalates above your
current skill level (unforeseen incident), you need to adapt and
evolve in order to relish in the desired state of flow and maximum
6 Tips for Finding Your Flow
1. Clear Goals
Knowing the expectations and having defined rules is essential.
It seems limiting external variables or wayward thinking is
2. Focus on a Single Task
Seems to fire in the face of multi-tasking and productivity
gurus. The old saying was, "balance many tasks to get more done."
The Flow way is to maximize your potential by focusing on one main
task or groups of tasks at a time to really engage your whole skill
set and attention.
3. Quick Feedback Loop
A direct or indirect feedback during an activity is vital so
whatever behavior can be quickly adjusted on an as-needed basis.
Think golfers. If they are slicing and they don't know why, they
will probably keep making the same swing fault without knowing the
true cause. If you had a professional coach there, you'd
immediately get proper feedback and your bad mechanics would
4. Balance of Ability Level and Challenge
As described in the chart above. Finding the correct combination
can improve worker productivity and satisfaction or even increase
your athletic performance.
5. The Activity is Intrinsically Rewarding
If you don't enjoy an activity, how are you going find flow, an
optimal mental state? You're not. Sometimes you have to do things
you don't want to, but if your activity is important to your future
success, keep following the steps for best results.
6. Control Over the Situation
This is another no brainer. If you don't have some type of
personal control over your task or activity...no flow for you.
How to Use Flow Concepts in Room
Creative Spatial Arrangements: Make sure you have plenty of dry
erase boards, pin walls, charts, and ironically NO tables. Dr. C
found the act of moving around and standing had a more positive
effect on entering flow. Obviously this isn't practical for
everybody. (I did randomly just realize that I did my best studying
by writing on a dry erase board while standing and then going back
to my notes to check if I wrote it correctly.) When in doubt, ask
what would Google do? They have a habit of pumping out some of the
best creativity and innovation in the world and they didn't do it
with cubicles and TPS reports!
What KILLS Flow?
1. Fearing what others think of you. Remember if people aren't
criticizing you that means you're not pushing the envelope or doing
awesome things. Don't fret. Let me guzzle Gatorade while you do
what makes you happy.
2. Mundane daily routines. If you're not pushing your
bubble or 'comfort zone,' you won't be experiencing flow anytime
Hope you enjoyed your 4th of July Weekend!
Beep Beep Beep… The ridiculous noise is coming from my alarm
clock and as I reach for the '5 more minutes button' it reads:
4:30am Saturday morning. Blaaa. Two things: it means I got about 4
hours of sleep after Friday night's Tri Mixer; and it also means
time to drive to Davenport, Iowa, (Palmer Chiro College) for a
Lumbo Pelvic Seminar.
First Tri Mixer
If you're wondering how I calculated my ridiculous 'math'
equation above, I think it is appropriate to start with the Tri
Mixer. I'm supposed to write this blog towards a prospective
student of National, so I'll give a quick explanation before the
good stuff. First Tri Mixer is a party held on the 2nd Friday of
each new trimester and is designed, I believe, mainly for the first
tri students to have a fun night out, but the whole school is
invited, so it ends up being a blast. They held it at Rita's (a
dance club/bar) not far from National the last two tris.
I had a blast at the last one, however my game plan changed for
this one. Given the impending early wakeup call, I opted for a long
pre-mixer with a bunch of my friends at Tricia's house (shout out
to all my friends :), and just dropped them off at Rita's so they
could save money on a cab (yes, I was the DD) and so I could
function somewhat the next day - after all, a chiropractic
adjustment is a high velocity / LOW amplitude impulse and you need
some sleep to do that!
Iowa and the Father
This was my second seminar sponsored by National so far and
definitely a different breed from the Lower Quadrant one last tri.
"Lumbar Spine & Pelvis Analysis & Adjustive Technique" was
the full name of the seminar at a venue right next to Palmer CC in
Davenport, Iowa, with Dr. Leonard Faye, who many call the 'Father'
of the Motion Palpation Institute as the instructor.
Dr. Faye has been practicing for 50 years and pioneered a more
functional view of the spine and the idea of a Modern Chiropractic
Movement. To elaborate, in his intro presentation, which is one of
the best talks I've witnessed, he spoke about how the BOOP (bone
out of place) theory is complete crap (for lack of a better term).
He went on to quote study after study that show that although the
adjustments work, they work for different reasons than we thought
in the past.
He explained that we have to evolve our thinking, because most
of the public and some chiropractic schools (National not being
one) still believe that a subluxation is literally a bone moved
'out' of place. To grossly over-summarize, a subluxation is not a
BOOP, it is a joint segment/articulation that is hypomobile or
restricted. The whole basis of Motion Palpation's teachings is to
palpate the segments that don't move well and adjust them
accordingly so the body can readapt to a properly functioning
structure. It's that simple, the scientific literature backs it and
more importantly it WORKS PHENOMENALLY, and the general population
and MD's are noticing.
Seminar Treats and Bucket List Crossing
Saturday night we went out with some students from Palmer and
Dr. Faye to a favorite local restaurant. Get this: Their drink
special was a BACON Bloody Mary. I almost fell out of my seat. A
Bacon Bloody Mary??? Quickly seizing the opportunity to combine my
favorite food and an epically unique experience to add (and
subsequently cross off) my bucket list, I ordered one! When in
Iowa… do as the Iowans do! To add to the amazing food, I had the
pleasure of sitting next to Dr. Faye himself and got to share
stories about hockey (He's from Canada, eh'!) and pick his brain on
philosophies, practice building, and life in general. Definitely a
memorable weekend and an experience I will draw upon for years to
Philosophy 102: Confessions of a 2nd
On the ride back from Iowa, Erick and I (Ben passed out in the
back lol) were engaged in a variety of topics from the Food Inc.
movie (rent it now) to "Return on Education" to
All that philosophizing inspired me to say this: For all you
future (and younger, current) National students out there, my
advice to you is this… DO EXTRACURRICULAR STUFF. Period. You want
to be good? Go to National. Want to be great? Go to National and
apply yourself to extra skills outside of your requirements. You
don't have to take my inexperienced word for it, take Dr. Faye's
word for it. He's been successfully practicing for 50 years and has
been on a mission to make students (and docs) better by giving them
additional information than they are not taught at chiropractic
school to help them earn a professional income. I will say that
National does a better job than the rest of the schools and I don't
know if that will rub people the wrong way, but hey, it's my
Deep Thought of the Day
So what do you want out of your future life? Do you want to be
Great? Average? Some do and that's totally fine. If you want more…
do more, practice more, shadow more, study more, learn more.
EVOLVE. Evolve into the MODERN Chiropractor.
Dr. Faye talked ad nauseam about the Modern Chiropractic
'Movement' that's going on right now and how we can be a part of
it. A modern chiropractor has tools the general public has never
seen before. They're NOT here to just go CRACK, CRACK, okay you're
done, 40 bucks please. The Modern Chiropractor is evidenced based,
reads the literature, understands that effective patient care is a
left-brained science with right-brained compassion artfully
sprinkled in. We are in it an exciting time in all our lives where
the sky quite literally is the limit.
I will leave you with a great quote from one of the top
chiropractic students I know, "If I'm already going to spend a ton
of money on school, I'd rather leave school with the extra skills
that will differentiate me and make me (and my practice) great with
150k in debt than have 140k in debt and just be good." Make no
mistake, National is the Harvard of alternative medicine and WILL
make you Good, but to be Great, look within and ask what you are
capable of… my bet is more than you think!
• MPI Gait Seminar
• Trimester Wind Down
• Chiro Games
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