What gives you H.O.P.E. and Gets You Into Your Flow Boat?
I like to play with words and make acronyms out of them and when I needed some hope one day I thought about keeping it simple and started playing. If you’ve ever read my musings, you will know that playing is held in high esteem as a Fundamental Universal Need or F.U.N. See, I like to play with words.
So what brings me hope is Helping Others and Protecting the Environment. It’s a really useful exercise to distill down what helps you into things you will remember when the going gets tough. If you focus on the bottom line, all decisions become easier. All situations can be filtered through those values.
If you’d like to play along, you don’t have to use the word H.O.P.E. to come up with something meaningful. You can find another word for what it is you want more of like J.O.Y., V.A.L.U.E.S., P.E.A.C.E., H.A.P.P.Y, F.L.O.W… You get the idea. Pick something you want more of in one word and play with that word until you distill down things that will bring you closer to it.
I was listening to a speaker name Rave Mehta in a webinar online recently and he reminded me about FLOW. It’s something we all like to be in—when we are in full alignment with our mind, body, spirit and universal truths. I think of it like a Flow boat in an easy moving body of water. There’s that divine feeling of floating and being at one with the universe. He reminded me that a persistent state of flow is triggered by a number of states that we can put ourselves in at any time.
What are these? Are you curious? Well curiosity is the one of them! Being curious about yourself, others, nature, etc. is a pathway toward Awe—another kind of blissful state. Being curious without judgement is incredibly freeing, especially if it’s toward ourselves first as it will bring us out of doubt and negative self judgements which hamper our creativity, problem solving, happiness, health and mental health.
Being Present with how we truly free without judgement is the next logical piece of the Flow puzzle. Being able to tolerate our emotions and those of others, as well as being fully present for the good stuff, is essential to our health and mental health. Learning the skills to tolerate your emotions is learnable by anyone so do reach out if you want or need some pointers. Most people do need assistance at one point or another as most folks aren’t taught it very well growing up. That’s what friends, family, elders, clergy, therapists, and coaches are for!
Being Present for the beauty in the world and the joy that exists and seeking it out is easier than tolerating emotions sometimes, but how many times do we NOT stop and watch a sunset—and really watch it without thinking about something else and missing that present moment? Practice that for more Flow.
The next move toward Flow (I see a board game needing to be created called FLOW) is Compassion. So that tolerance of yours and others’ emotions I just mentioned also means being able to be compassionate toward them, all of them, whatever state you or another are in. I have written about the vital need for knowing how to show true empathy and compassion toward someone or yourself having an emotion or life experience that may be hard to look at as an essential life skill. Start with yourself and watch it flow (pun intended) outward.
It is then easier to have Humility toward both the greatness and suffering in the world—ours and others. We can look upon the stars with humility for our little lives down here on earth and we can be humble in the face of our mistakes and faults, and then for the same in others. If we have compassion, facing these things is only a learning moment, not a shaming one.
What is one Selfless Act that you can do today? It will trigger that Flow, bring you into the present moment, show compassion and a number of other parts of the Flow boat. No selfless act is too small—helping someone who dropped something counts! Giving someone a smile counts! Not responding to an obnoxious social media post counts! I hope you get the idea. Ever heard the starfish story? Maybe I’ll tell it in the next musing but I want to get to my favorite thing that triggers a persistent state of Flow—Play!
I have written many, many times—in fact at the end of each musing, about the need for play. Research has backed this up for decades. Brains don’t grow normally without it. Bodies wither and die in a heap without it. Adults need it, not just kids. It’s even more essential for adults these days it seems. And play that triggers flow does not typically involve a screen and it doesn’t necessarily need to involve another person. It is full body, mind and spirit engagement. Body surfing, check. Running through a tall grass field, check. Making a fairy garden, check. I couldn’t possibly list all the ways to play but most people know when they are playing if you stop to ask them (and the researchers must have a lot of fun doing this).
If you need ideas or help exercising your play capacity, since many of us indeed have temporary amnesia, reach out for help. It is essential to life and Flow. If you need some motivation about how important it is, read the seminal book by Stuart Brown called “Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.”
So those letters to trigger FLOW again are: C P C H G S A P. See what words you can make of that! Who’s up for it? Or pick your own word like I mentioned at the beginning and come up with what has meaning for you OR make up your own word with the things you value most or that will bring you into your Flow boat. Bonus points if you send them to me (or leave a comment).
Now go out and P.L.A.Y.! Or F.L.O.W. ! Maybe I’ll come up with what those mean next time!