Flow isn’t always what you need

Flow isn’t always what you need

[00:00:00] **Aurooba Ahmed:** Well hello, this is The Daily Five with Aurooba. That's me, where we reflect on creating our best lives a little bit every day. Here we go.

[00:00:15] You know that feeling where you're on Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter, and you've been scrolling for a while, and all of a sudden it's an hour later? Yeah, that feeling. That feeling is flow. You are in the zone, lost in what you're doing, time ceases to matter, and there's just what you're doing. We think of flow in terms of productivity, but in fact, that's flow too.

[00:00:46] Flow is not something that only happens when you're doing something useful. Flow is agnostic. It's not about what you're doing. It's the quality of how you're doing it. You can enter a state of flow washing dishes, scrolling on TikTok, reading a book, watching a movie, or having a deep conversation with a friend.

[00:01:07] We've put flow up on a mantle and have an almost reverence for the idea. We think flow is the best way to get something done. And when we think that, we actually hurt ourselves and our concepts around productivity and new things and work and all those things. When you're learning something new, there is no flow.

[00:01:30] It's nowhere in sight, it hasn't just left the room, it has exited the building, maybe the entire continent. When you're learning new chords on the guitar, struggling to wrap your mind around a new technology, trying to figure out why that dough will not take the shape you want it to, or figuring out why the instructions for this stupid new piece of furniture don't match the pieces laying out around you, there is no flow.

[00:01:57] When you are engaging in deliberate practice, there is no flow.

[00:02:02] Because flow is when something feels almost effortless for you. Flow comes when the scene in your mind is perfectly clear, and the words are just coming at you as your hands fly across the keyboard. I'm absolutely in some state of flow right now as I record this episode.

[00:02:23] In fact, the flow is why a lot of the episodes are as smooth as they generally are. I barely say um or uh. There is often not too much of a beat between my thoughts. I wouldn't say I've perfected the ability to enter a state of flow for The Daily Five, because of course I still have off days, days I struggle, days where I have to try again and again and sometimes even write entire sentences down of my key ideas so I can articulate them decently.

[00:02:54] But there are also a lot of days, a lot of times, where for the five minutes or so that I sit here at my desk, with my mic in front of me, my eyes unseeing of the actual world around me as I record, that I feel a state of flow. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. Sometimes the only five minutes in my day where I feel crystal clear, and my mind is like the surface of an incredibly still lake.

[00:03:21] And as I say that, you better believe I'm picturing Moraine Lake, one of my favorite lakes in the Rockies. But you cannot always harken after the state of flow. Because learning new things, working out something foreign to you, figuring out really, really hard problems that you don't yet know how to attack.

[00:03:39] These require stretching, pulling, researching. During these times, the seconds they take away painfully slow. What should have been an hour? Turns out to only have been 10 minutes. When I lift weights, for example, I do not enter a state of flow. Learning a new chord on the guitar with my short and decidedly not slender fingers is hard work, painful. I mess up, I try again, I struggle wildly. There is no flow there.

[00:04:10] And yet without the struggle, without the state of deliberate practice that feels so excruciating sometimes, I would not eventually find a way to feel flow there. Flow is good. Flow is awesome, and so is deliberate practice, serious struggle, failing and starting again and again.

[00:04:29] When you feel confused, frustrated, irritated, or annoyed, change your perspective. Embrace it. Welcome it. Know that you are learning something new and one day it will feed into flow on something else that is great and cool. I'll end with a quote from one of my favorite poets, Khalil Gibran. Loosely translated, he has a line in Broken Wings that says, "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls. The most massive characters are seared with scars."

[00:04:59] Thanks for listening. Same time tomorrow?