As a reminder: Flow states
have triggers we can use to make it more likely we drop into flow when desired! Links below to the ones we’ve already covered!
A rich environment means an environment with lots of novelty
, unpredictability and complexity — three things that catch and focus our attention much like risk
. If we don’t know what happens next, we pay more attention to the present. Complexity refers to lots of information coming at us at once, which also drives focus as our brains sort through it all, and pours dopamine into our system!
The complexity of the activity should not drive your system into overwhelm. Yet, it should not be so simple that your brain decides that it’s not worth paying extra attention to. You must be clear on how you are to navigate the complex terrain.
Complexity is a huge flow trigger when it comes to work challenges – taking that “how the heck do I sort through this one?” feeling and using the complexity of a problem to trigger flow. Break the problem down into manageable next steps so as to mitigate overwhelm and chew on a workable piece of it at a time. Over time in my career, I learned to understand that many times, “I don’t have time” was what people said when the reality was that they meant, “I don’t know how to solve this problem.” That made diving into the problem even juicier for me as I realized perhaps I could be the one to break it down and start to unwind the complexity into something we could work with/through.
Complexity comes into play for me as well when planning/envisioning wilderness activities . . . Where will the snow be good and the snowpack most friendly? How can we sequence a rad plane-based trip around Alaska and work with the weather? How can we plan a wilderness trip that biases toward good walking conditions and has manageable rivers? When to plan international trips to optimize good weather elsewhere when it’s less likely to be good where we live?
Here’s another great example of complexity: ice skating on a big wild Alaska lake, managing ice thickness, changing conditions, risk management, and group dynamics . . . harder when it’s not one’s “normal” sport like skiing or mountain biking for me so all of it’s as novel as it is complex!
Do you use this flow trigger? How is it most effective for you?!?!?
Did you miss the past descriptions? Check them out!
FLOW TRIGGERS EXPLAINED: