Samurai warriors were without a doubt some of the fiercest fighters who ever existed. The key to the samurai’s incredible fighting ability was the complete elimination of their fear of death and their complete focus on being in the present moment.
They did this by entirely de-energizing their fear of death. If a person in a fighting situation is distracted by thoughts of being hurt or dying, he will be the loser. Samurai warriors were unencumbered by these fears and were courageous in the face of the unknown. In short, they were empowered by a lack of fear, and this allowed them to completely focus, react and stay in the present moment. They fought without hesitation and with complete confidence.
They were “IN THE ZONE”, they “OWNED THE ZONE”.
Today the term ‘in the zone’ has been bandied around by sports psychologists, motivational speakers and even leading blue chip companies – mainly because the term itself can enhance the want to be there. And as we know, the mere focus on such a place, a point, a desire can in fact take you there if you’re persistent enough, and determined enough and consistent. Practice makes perfect, right?
So what is the ‘Zone’?
Being ‘in the zone or flow’, is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. According to its originator, psychologist Csíkszentmihályi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task.
So why aren’t more of us living in ‘the zone’?
The biggest problem facing us today is an enormous increase in workload both at work and at home.
Feelings of being overwhelmed, pressured and de-motivated are rampant but are not acknowledged nor openly admitted in our society, because it may be perceived as a failure to cope.
We have discovered the keys to managing your state of being so that your emotional resilience is at the superior level necessary to thrive in any environment, at work or at home. Thus, allowing you to perform at your peak, effortlessly getting the job done when the barriers to success are removed.
What are these barriers? They are ‘mental and emotional’ barriers that stop people from performing at their peak and enjoying the moment.
There are two kinds of happiness in the world. The most of us think it is a simple feeling in the body. The other, more subtle form of happiness is a state of being in perfect harmony with life, the universe and everything. Psychologists call this ‘the flow’, musicians call this ‘the groove’, and athletes call this ‘the zone’.
In the West, our culture emphasizes the pursuit of happiness through external experiences. For example – I’ll be happy when….I’ve won the lotto, made a million pounds, when I’m married, when I have bought my first house, when I retire, when I find a job.
In Eastern culture there is an emphasis on acceptance of the condition of existence, posting the idea that happiness is found within. They believe, Happiness is not a result, it is a state of mind and body. Most people are as happy as they make their minds up to be. For Real!
There is a science to happiness…
For decades, researchers have been trying to find out what it was that allowed the drug opium to have its euphoric effects. When Dr Candace Pert was still only a graduate student, she discovered what we called the ‘opiate receptors’, not just in the brain, but in ever cell of our body.
She found these receptors were particularly in tune with one special kind of chemical messenger called endogenous morphine, or more commonly known as endorphin. These are our body’s natural opiates, the neuro-transmitters that control pain and pleasure.
When you do physical exercise, make love, laugh a lot or relax deeply, these endorphins play in your body. And if you do these things often enough, then the endorphins will create more connections in your brain shooting off signals in all directions like a twitter call to a party! And to add to the excitement every cell in your body has receptors to endorphins! Are you getting the picture here?
There are 8 characteristics that are present during your moment of happiness. Each of the characteristics serves as a potential trigger to turning an ordinary situation into a state of flow.
1. Clear Goals
Having a clear goal, purpose or intention acts as a sort of organizing principle for our attention, filtering our experience down from the world of infinite possibilities to a selective collection of experiences. This in turn allows us to focus, feel in control, and ‘makes sense’ of what is happening. So firstly, set yourself a purpose or a goal relating to the task at hand. Even if it is washing the car.
2. Immediate Feedback
The brain is designed as a cybernetic mechanism. It thrives on having clear goals and making constant adjustments to get to that goal. It’s like a heat seeking missile! So in order to have it function properly we need to give it constant feedback. That’s why people who are too close to their craft, feel a sense of personal rejection when they get constructive criticism. This in turn, causes the mental and emotional issues that will throw them off course, and keep them out of the state of ‘flow’.
The best way to handle your adjustments is to see what you’re doing as a ‘project’. You want the best result, so you will listen to those who are experienced and successful to get to the top.
3. Ability to Concentrate on the Task at Hand …
You must focus on one thing at a time. Multi-skilling is great for people who are in an administrative role and who need to do multiple tasks. But geniuses are like circus plate-spinners, able to keep many plates going at one time, but they are all a plate, just a different facet of it. Focus.
4. The Possibility of Successful Completion
Confidence is preparation in motion. You need to see the final picture. You need to ‘know’ completely that you will be able to successfully finish the task or project at hand. And this is why we believe that training and education are so key to confidence. It’s the backbone of your life. Hope, belief and persistence. Our probability to success goes up when we choose attitudes and actions that are in our control. Prepare. Invite others to partake. Get as much information as you can. Get inspired.
5. Total Involvement
When you do things not because you believe it will necessarily make you look good or make money from it, but for the sheer love of doing that thing that you so desire, you increase the likelihood of experiencing the flow, the groove, the zone.
6. Loss of Self-consciousness
What others think of you is none of your business. Heard that before? No? Well, take a good look at it. Because you will be saying it a lot to be able to move into your true authentic self. Everyone has built up perceptions based on personal experience ONLY. And many people get ‘stuck’ in this perception which is a limited way of living.
There are many ways to skin a cat, so why think that there is only one way to grieve, to win, to be happy, to drive, to laugh, to sing? By the time we are five we have already begun to judge ourselves through the eyes of the people around us. When we can release ourselves into a pure state of flow, we return to that pleasant state where what we are doing becomes far more interesting than what other people think.
7. A Sense of Control
A study documented in the New York Times points out the significance of a sense of control in our lives. By taking control over even the simplest elements of our environment, like where we like to sit, how things are arranged on our desk, when we answer our mobile - increases the likelihood of experiencing happiness. Start with the smallest things, and then all that you do will have a state of happiness over it, and people will be willing to abide to your influence and requests.
8. Time Distortion
Time flies when you’re having fun right?
Time distortion shows two things. When time flies, all of the above 7 characteristics are in play. When times drags, they are not.
Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it feels like an hour. Sit next to a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity – Albert Einstein.