Have you ever been so completely immersed in an activity that you lost all sense of time? You may have been experiencing a mental state known as “flow.”
According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow is "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."
A few common activities where people find flow include dancing, making music, doing yoga, writing or painting, but flow can happen when you’re completely engrossed in just about anything—even great conversation. Here, we look at the surprising benefits of flow and examine some of the best ways to tap into this mental zone.
Benefits of flow
Olympic champion canoeist and meditation enthusiast Etienne Stott MBE describes flow as “a great sense of power, freedom, and expression.” It applies to athletes, musicians, artists, and anyone with work to do, putting us in an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”
The benefits of being in a flow state cannot be overstated. According to research done by Harvard professor Teresa Amabile, people who experience flow reported higher levels of creativity, productivity and happiness up to three days after being in a deep flow state.
Getting into flow may be the key to unlocking our potential for work efficiency. “The average business person spends less than 5% of their day in flow,” says Steven Kotler, author of The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance. “If you could increase that to 15%, overall workplace productivity would double,”
We are often at our happiest in flow, because we are far away from worry or anxiety. That euphoric feeling you experience after completing a challenging task—accomplished, excited, proud—is pretty hard to beat.
There’s even been evidence suggesting that flow can have physical healing properties, too. “When a person is in a state of flow, all five potent neurochemicals massively amplify the immune system,” says Kotler, who credits the flow state he experienced while surfing while battling. Lyme disease. “Stress-causing hormones are flushed out of the body in flow, and the autoimmune and nervous systems go haywire. Flow brought me from seriously subpar back up to normal, and it can bring normal people to Superman.”
Tapping into the flow state
We all love vegging out in front of Netflix, but make no mistake: this is not “being in the flow.” There are certain criteria that can help put you in a proper flow state, where you can reap the benefits above.
It should be an activity you’re passionate about or enjoy;
There’s an element of challenge, but not so challenging that you become frustrated;
There’s a specific goal in mind or plan of action;
You’re able to stretch your current skills.
Since cannabis promotes relaxation, focus and euphoria during favourable activities (especially Sativa strains), it may help you shortcut to the flow state. Anecdotally, we already know that many artists, creators and entrepreneurs use cannabis to boost their creativity and find flow. Cannabis users often report feeling more creative and uplifted, which can be motivating in tackling creative tasks. Both THC and CBD can be motivating in this regard.
Author and self-described “flow junky” Steven Kotler, in an interview with Jason Silva (at roughly 1:00:52), offers a simple tip for a flow hack:
“You want the cheapest flow hack in the world? Twenty-minute run. Cup of coffee. Marijuana. That order. It’s the exact same neurochemical cocktail as flow. Simple.”
CBD may impact the flow state by increasing relaxation and promoting better motivation and focus. By incorporating CBD into your life, you may be able to experience more states of flow and increase your happiness. Feel free to experiment and discover out which products and THC:CBD ratios work best for your flow state.
Productivity, creativity, timelessness, bliss—sign us up. Happy flow seeking!