Flow is an Athlete’s Secret
- 18 min reading time
- audio version available
The camera pans around a crowd of breathless spectators, then zooms in on the gymnast at the edge of the mat. Poised to begin their routine, the athlete is a picture of raw determination, physical excellence, and a rare psychological gift: the ability to fully and completely get in the zone. This is flow—that state of mind in which we perform at our ultimate best.
Some describe the experience of flow as spiritual, when the external world fades away and you and your craft become one. But flow is accessible to everyone, religious or no, and it isn’t the sole property of athletes capable of superhuman feats. It’s yours to harness, too! The state of flow occurs when certain neurochemicals, like those that sharpen focus and heighten excitement, are released, and other parts of the brain are inhibited, such as our sense of self-awareness and introspection.
Curious to learn how you, too, might get in the zone? Your must-read is Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi’s classic Flow.