It’s happened to all of us. We get hit with the unexpected. The break-up phone call or even worse…it’s a text message! The cancelled flight to the vacation you’ve been waiting for months to go on. The rejection email from a job. The closing of your favorite local restaurant. The list goes on. The unexpected can happen at any time. How can you maintain an attitude of flow that enables you to navigate uncontrollable or unexpected situations? Here are a few tips:
1. Focus on what you CAN control – Often, answers lie somewhere between the best and worst case scenarios. When you realize that most answers are not black and white, you get more comfortable with the possibilities in the gray area. Remind yourself that it could be worse and then ask yourself, “what can I control in this situation?” What you can control is your attitude, your thoughts, and your response. Take a deep breath, evaluate your options, stay focused on a positive outcome, talk it out with someone you trust if you need to, and then respond.
2. Practice neutral thinking – Trevor Moawad, top athletic performance coach and author of It Takes What it Takes shares the approach of being non-judgmental and non-reactive in assessing problems and analyzing crisis situations. You don’t gravitate to past failures or situations that have gone wrong. You don’t obsess over victory. Instead, you concentrate on your behavior over your feelings. Use what you have available to you (e.g., skills, resources) vs. stressing out about what you don’t have. Reduce your negative thoughts and words and this keeps you in a calmer, more collected state.
3. Build a healthy mental mindset – There are a variety of habits that help achieve flow. Here are just a few. If your faith is near and dear to you, prayer may be your helpful daily practice. Surrendering to a higher power can provide peace and guidance. For others, exercise may work best. Yoga, weights, or a cardio fitness class are all ways to release tension, produce endorphins (the happy hormone), and improve brain function. Meditation is another consideration. Taking a few minutes a day to do some deep breathing with focused attention on presence and centering thoughts can enhance flow.
We’d love to hear from you. If there is something that you do to improve your ability to be in a flow state, share your thoughts with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.