Flow theory – How to Find your Focus

When I was working on my undergrad I had a class called motivation. In it we talked about something called “flow theory.” Flow theory talks about this thing that happens that people refer to as flow. Basically, you ask people why they like doing the things they like doing and what’s different about the things they like the most. People typically respond with whatever it is that they like the most, and state that “It just flows” for them.

This was a concept I immediately understand. I had always had things that just flowed for me. When I was younger it was sports. Particularly basketball and softball. For some reason, it just flowed when I played them. I had a natural talent for them. So playing them just made sense to me. I also had that flow with writing. There is a connection that happens when I write. And it just flows. It was nice when I was in school, because I could write papers the night before or in the morning when they were due. And well, procrastination flows for me as well!

But I’ve also found that we can use those things that flow for us to focus our minds. I am one of those people (which I honestly think is at least half of all people) whose mind is constantly going. Thousands of thoughts all going in all directions at one time. Spurred on by stressed. Making decisions nearly impossible. And finding a goal or a path in life nearly impossible. Clinically, it’s probably considered a low grade form of ADHD sans hyperactivity (except this morning when I had some coffee for the first time in a year and It was amazing!). When we can’t slow our minds down and we can’t stop the thoughts and focus we have an attention deficit. But like I said, I have found that I can use those things that flow for me to calm my mind. And if I can pay attention to the fact that my mind is calm, I can use that time to work to find a focus. I can prioritize my problems. I can make a list. I can organize my thoughts in a way that seems impossible otherwise.

It’s important that we pay attention to what we are doing with our time. It’s important that we utilize the tools that we do have at our disposal. We all have something (multiple things) that flow for us. If we pay attention and utilize these things, then we can use them to find our focus. We can use them as tools to guide our lives. We can calm our minds. We can find respite. We can search for the right next move. When we need to know where to go, because we can’t see any doors open for us we can use what flows for us. Let it calm us. Let it move us. Think about what flows for you, then try to see if you can use it to organize your thoughts and figure out different roads you can take. Use it to find a way to get to where you want to be. It may take some practice, but the payoff is worth it. And so are you! 🙂

About laurenc129

I'm a mom. Sometimes my hands turn orange. Other times I write. On twitter: @laurenc129

Posted on June 12, 2012, in June 2012, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. Regarding earlier comment about flow and meditation…
    ‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.’ (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
    Check out his stuff… http://www.mindfulnesscds.com/author.html
    My new blog https://seedmind.wordpress.com/

  2. This is the 3rd thing I’ve read about “flow state” in as many days…I think the universe is trying to tell me something! I’m trying to organize and prioritize so that I can make room in my life for flow to happen, otherwise, I’m afraid my book will never finish being written!

    ~Lynn

    • I had been thinking about writing a book like the one I wrote for 2 years, or a little more. (I think about writing books in general all the time) But it took letting it flow for me to actually end up writing. I had tried beforehand a few times, but never like it and never got more than a chapter in. Then I ended up changing the entire way I was planning to write it, which was a way I never planned on writing anything, and all of a sudden everything just flowed out. You can do it!! Keep at it, and be open! 🙂

  3. just read this, good words of thought. will be “chewing” on this for awhile….

  4. I look forward to reading more on your blog. I’m going to have to think more about flow and what flows for me and how that shapes my experience. I’m intrigued by the notion of flow as a way to calm. Some of the things I most enjoy doing flow well, but energize me – which feels the opposite of “calming.” Yet there is a sense of calming the spirit because I’m doing something that nourishes the spirit. Great food for thought! 🙂

    • I’m usually energized afterward and during those activities, but my mind tends to calm. My thoughts don’t flow so quickly and I can find a way to start to focus, which usually energizes me even more because I get excited about finding some peace and direction. It makes me feel like I can accomplish things and I have the energy and desire to start trying. 🙂

  5. i know what you mean about the flow. when i write i am lost in the words and they just catch onto an idea and just go with it. good post. definitely felt the flow in your writing.

  6. Yep! My flow is Writing , music and PROCRASTINATING (oh, yes) but thank you, this really caught my eye 😀 I’m going to use my flow as a tool to re organize ! Happy reading 🙂

  7. I was just thinking about how I have so many different avenues of possibility that it’s hard to just pick one to focus on…this is a great post to remind me to consider my flow 🙂 Thank you!

  8. Change My Body...Change My Life

    Writing is my flow and frequently my meditation. If I’m not writing, I’m avoiding something. Fantastic post.

  9. Yeah definitely agree. Sometimes I experience that when I forget something and try extremely hard to remember it. But when I give up and relax my mind, in that instant, I remember the piece of information I was trying to recall.

    • Oh that’s a great tip! I always get so focused on what I’ve lost or forgotten that I never think to relax and just let it come to me. I hope I remember to use that next time!

  10. Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. Great post and a good reminder how important it is to be aware of what flows for us……..for me it is swimming, and pretty much any outdoor activity…..and in the past couple of years, writing as well.

    • We are about to go swimming right now. We went the other day and I realized just how out of shape I am!! 🙂 I need to swim more. It’s too hot for anything else here.

  12. My mind’s usually all over the place – and that’s before coffee – but I agree with you, I think it’s symptomatic of today’s society. We have so many things to do and to remember that it’s hard to focus on any single one thing.

    Not sure if I know my flow… I love astronomy… but that’s difficult when you live in a city. I like to write, but sometimes you just end up with a blank page. I find driving relaxing… well, apart from the usual muppets on the road… like the woman going driving through Wal-Mart’s parking lot the wrong way this morning…

    …and now I’m rambling… focus… focus… what were you saying about flow theory again? 😛

  13. Great post!
    I know what things put me in a state of “flow” but I can never seem to get to them! haha! When I was in High School I used to love hanging out in the dark room working on photography projects. I was always amazed that what felt like 30 minutes was actually 4 hours. Now that’s some flow! I would love to immerse myself in work/projects/hobbies that help me to lose myself like that (slow down my thoughts until they don’t exist.)

    I can see how sports could do that. You have to be so present.
    You’re right, it’s a very healthy pursuit.

    • Ha, I hate when I don’t have time for my flow! And sometimes I get away from it for so long that I forget I can go back to it and it will help me. I never play sports other than tag with my son now. But I need to get back in the habit!

  14. i wonder if there is a connection between flow and meditation. there are some aspects of each that seem similar. great post.

  15. Can’t honestly think of any other ways to say “hear hear” about this. I’m a great believer in flow, especially when writing, and I too never switch off.

  16. Hi there, thanks for stopping by my blog Vacant Pages and liking todays post, much appreciated. Keep up with the writing.

  17. The Flow state is wonderful to be in, it can be calming as you’ve said. I find my flow with writing, playing the piano, singing and drawing (although this one is eluding me at the moment-I’ve lost my flow!). Thanks for the reminder to be in the flow more.

    Rachel

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