Updated: Oct 15
“Damn it!”, was my first thought when the traffic light changed to red just as I got to it, as I was on my way to work this a few years ago. Then, as I sat listening to my audio book “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (2009), I realised that Autumn was exploding its annual abundance of fleeting beauty. So, I stopped chuntering and enjoyed the loveliness surrounding me.
Just keep moving, no matter the cost
It got me thinking about the days that I used to drive miles out of my way in order to avoid grid-lock frustration, just so that I could keep moving and feel like I wasn’t wasting my time going nowhere. This is most likely a familiar traffic-tactic for many of us. As it turned out, I was wasting my time.
I noticed on several occasions, when being reunited with the traffic a couple of miles down the road, that the traffic I was trying to avoid was beating me, simply by sitting in this awful grid-lock. I realised that I was just wasting energy – my own and that of my fuel tank.
So, I decided to start sitting in the jam. I didn’t get to my destination any later and I started to enjoy the time I had just sitting in my car, listening to music, singing like a banshee, or putting my music on shuffle and seeing how quickly I could name the track and artist from their intros.
I would also sit and think about the things that I am grateful for, but which I take for granted so often. By the time I got to work, I would be in a great mood and ready to face the day with a smile on my face.
How super, a bit of extra “me-time”. Thank you fellow motorists, for all choosing to go in the same direction as me at the same time!
Food for the soul
Right now, it is autumn once again and I make sure to notice Mother Nature's mulit-coloured splendour on every trip out of the house. I work from home a lot these days, as many of us do, but when you do nip out, just take a few moments to just NOTICE.
According to Csikszentmihalyi (2009), feeding the senses is likely to get you into a great state for reaching flow and who wouldn’t benefit from a bit of a brain-boost on a chilly autumnal morning?
Flow, in short, is a state in which we work so effectively, that time flies by. We are in an ultra-productive zone and we are thoroughly engrossed in the work that we are doing. Furthermore, when we finish being wildly effective in our work, we are rewarded with a feel-fantastic dose of dopamine, which motivates us to do even more.
Food for motivation
If we concentrate on the magic around us and allow our minds to get caught up in the moment, instead of worrying about what might come of the day, we can reach states that enhance our productivity and creativity, instead of stress and anxiety.
Stress and anxiety only cloud our judgement and stop us from thinking freely.
Plus, our thinking processes can only follow the path of least resistance. That’s no good to us if we need fresh thinking to solve problems or create new ideas. After all, you cannot solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that brought it about in the first place, according to Einstein.
So, the next time you're stuck in a jam or you're in a bit of brain-funk, take a bit of time to appreciate what is lovely in the world around you.
Take notice of and be grateful for the beautiful things that you often miss as a result of always being in a rush and needing to get from A to B in the quickest possible time. Afford yourself some “you-time” simply by enjoying the freedom of being at one with the moment. Let it consume you briefly and let it enhance your thinking processes for a while longer afterwards.
If you start your working day in a great mood, you will work better and are more likely to enter the state of flow, setting off a positive domino effect for the mind!
Optimise your mind
The habits we perform make us who we are and, often, all we need to do is change our patterns of thinking in order to smash through the obstacles that come our way.
There are so many ways in which we let our subconscious minds sabotage us on a daily basis. We can end up standing still, instead of making strides in our personal and professional lives, without ever knowing what is blocking us. More often than not, we are experiencing some kind of fear, relating to hidden beliefs. We then spend too much time focussed intently on what cheeses us off, making ourselves believe that these things are the reasons why we are not getting to where we want to be.
So, try out Grid-Lock Gratitude for yourself, or if you're working from home, pop out for a walk and see what difference it makes to the start of your day. This could be the first step to unleashing your boundless potential. We all have an abundance of excellence inside us and sometimes a different focus or new angle is all that we need to kick-start a positive chain reaction.
This is also a powerful metaphor for how we could think about our lives on a daily basis, in order to appreciate what we have already in our lives and what strengths and experience we have to draw on, rather than what we lack.
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