Founder Story: Flow
I first learned about flow in Emily Esfahani Smith’s Ted Talk, There's more to life than being happy. In it, she identifies the four pillars of a meaningful life. It was her third pillar, which I would later come to know as flow. According to Smith, “Transcendent states are those rare moments when you're lifted above the hustle and bustle of daily life, your sense of self fades away, and you feel connected to a higher reality.” Those moments when you get so engrossed in something that you lose track of time. There’s so much value in those moments, she says.
That totally resonated with me. ‘So that’s what you call it!’ I thought. Previously, I hadn’t known it by name, I had only experienced it accidentally, and I certainly didn’t realize I should be prioritizing it. But from that moment on, I had a label for it. Not only did I now know what to call it, but now I knew that I needed to be prioritizing it in my life!
It also made me realize that flow was something I used to have, but lately, was experiencing less and less of. At work, I went from being an individual contributor to a manager. I went from creating stuff all day to sitting in meetings and answering emails (things that did not trigger flow for me.) And at home, I was busier and busier, and so hobbies had drifted away. And it all happened so slowly that I didn’t realize it.
So when I learned about flow, it was a really important shift for me. I’m a creator. I love writing, painting, music, and theater. And of course, when I was creating, I was finding flow. Before learning about flow, I didn’t know what I was doing or why it was so valuable. I just knew that I enjoyed those activities. After realizing what that feeling was, after discovering how valuable flow was to a truly happy and meaningful life, I could and should make a conscious effort to make room for flow in my life again. I would carve out time at work to do deep work. At home, I would give myself permission to paint or compose music. I became an architect of my daily life, and flow was on the short list.
Flow has become a mainstay in my life. A hygienic task for my soul. And ensuring I find flow on a regular basis has no doubt left me feeling happier and more fulfilled.
By the way, the four pillars of a meaningful life, according to Emily Esfahani Smith, are belonging, purpose, transcendance/flow, and storytelling. We cover each of those in other months of the program.