how to be creative

6 Steps to Bringing Creativity to Life: Becoming a Flow-State All Star


“Time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.” ~ William Faulkner

Recognizing and Releasing the Dam

I worked at a locally owned community grocer and bakery for a little under half a year once. It was a great little business, where the owner lived right around the corner and there were always familiar faces.

I loved the idea of working with community and food – natural, local, quality food, where I met farmers and producers who passed through daily. The business even had their own kitchen and bakery across the street that brought fresh breads and pastries of all sorts every morning. It’s a great place.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, after a week and half it felt like I was dying in there. The problem was that I’m a thinker and as often as possible try to be a creator. This is hard in regular work environments, where the mind isn’t allowed to think abstractly or sequentially.

After initial learning, some jobs turn into keeping all the nuts and bolts tightened. Blah. Feeling mentally restrained, my mind battled to wander into creative flow as duty called it away and the hands on the clock went by slower and slower.

Can you relate? Where every day your work feels like just another push until the clock strikes freedom? If you do, it’s time to abandon ship.

Watching time pass, ‘clicked off by little wheels,’ really feels deadening. To bring it to life, as Faulkner notes, we have do what erases measured time from our awareness.

Becoming a Flow-State All-Star

All Stars are the people who do what they love and love what they do. They enter a state of creative flow, where time passes naturally like a rushing stream. While it comes easy for some people, it takes diligent practice like everything else for most of us, and even the experienced need to keep on top of their game.

I like to think I’m almost an All-Star now, but it took years to realize the potential. For instance, in youth I was too concerned with having fun, socializing and messing around to stick my head into a book for very long. Reading was something demanded by the powers that be, and anything that fell under that category sat prominently on my ‘to-not-do’ list.

Over the years I dropped the ego and came to terms with a slightly receding hairline and more fragile body. Most importantly, I embraced the curiosity for life, the world around me and what I was doing in it – sustainable lifelong interests that lead to significant change.

Mental stimulation and creativity became abundantly exciting. While a full-time snowboarder, part-time student in Colorado, missing out on a day in the mountains eventually didn’t bother me because I was captivated and mentally engaged with or without physical activity. Time came alive as my mind engaged with its new hobby: learning and experimenting with life.

Now, time is quite alive and quite active. There are never enough hours in the day and I hardly notice them pass. Sometimes I’ll start writing and realize 4 or 5 hours passed and my stomach is grumbling for a snack before checking the clock.

Thoughts are engaging friends when nobodies around, and will engage them when they are. Nourish them and they nourish you.

Flow-State Crib Sheet

Try these tips to hone your interest areas and engage in a life alive.

  1. Mull. Find yourself some free time to be alone in a comfortable place where you can think. Grab a piece of paper, journal or pen and mull over your life. Think about what captivates and engages you, what types of books you read, what websites you view, what you would like to improve in your life, your goals, something you’d like to learn – write it all down.
  2. Experiment. Take the list of loves you just gathered and think about them. Keep them in mind and see if find yourself inspired to give one a shot within the next few days you. Pick up that book, start writing, start learning, build something, learn an instrument – whatever you choose.
  3. Climb. While letting it be natural is best, even with your list on the brain and intentions set a busy life derails picking up new habits easily. Find the time, pick something on the list and start climbing – self-motivating through the initial discomfort until you reach higher ground and begin feeling more like you’re barreling down hill and can’t stop, or want to.
  4. Don’t expect. If you clutter your mind with expectations of engaging flow and creating with phenomenal results, you’re making it quarrelsome to tap into your potential. It’s one of those nonsensical things, where you have to almost pretend as though your consciousness isn’t around, but know what’s going on. Like it’s hiding behind a bush waiting and watching for the subconscious flow-state to do its thing. Also, while achieving goals benefits from visualization and ambition, it can also be deterred from lofty expectation. Be easy on yourself.
  5. Dawdle. This aligns with expectations. Often when I write, I’ll sit at the computer and dawdle around email, organize things and view websites until all of a sudden inspiration strikes or focus finds me and a flow-state takes over for who knows how long. Allow yourself time to fidget around and get comfortable. Just be persistent and generous with your effort to allow your mind to develop the practice.
  6. Repeat. Once you experience a flow-state of engaged creation, celebrate. After that, take note of how it felt and if you’d like to continue practicing. The more you stick with something, the more your mind finds patterns and serendipitous coincidences in all corners of life. This is truly uplifting and mind opening. You’ll meet new people, discover new things and very likely develop a passion to the point you could turn it into a vocation. That’s when you become a Flow-Sate All-Star.

Medhi Rene helps people interested in and seeking to liberate from convention and live with extraordinary intention by focusing a variety of thoughtful topics and self-education. I hope to build a community around these principles at Mind the Good Life (http://mindthegoodlife.com). Because the Good Life is a matter of the Mind.

  • http://twitter.com/EFTFreedom Ben Ross

    I can definately identify, I hate the thought of having a ‘normal’ job anymore. I am more for my own business and enjoy working on it day in day out!

    I’m even doing work online for somebody else and enjoying it because it’s not stale and boring and I believe in their vision!

    I don’t know how somebody could work in a factory or something for 20 years, I just could not do it!

    -Ben

    • MehdiRene

       Awesome, Ben! Blaze your trail! I feel the same way today, working obscene hours out of pure volition and enjoyment, while also working with various organizations and consultants who share a vision. Keeping it dynamic and staying true to you is a recipe for wellness. Keep on Minding the Good Life. Cheers.

  • http://www.acalltoaction.net/ Trevor Wilson

    Watching the miutes slowly tick by at work is not a healthy state of mind.  But it *is* a state of mind. You can choose to view your time at work differently.

    But you’re right. Finding meaninful and thought provoking work will go a long way towards making that mindset easier.

    I like the idea of the flow-state. Sounds the same as being in the zone. Time really is dynamic . . . it moves as fast or as slow as we perceive it to move. And when time is just flying by and you don’t even notice, that’s when you’ve hit the sweet spot in your work.

    Cheers!

    • MehdiRene

       Great point, Trevor. A state of mind is no doubt a conscious choice and one can choose positive or negative. Years ago when I held that job, I struggled to find the positive and part of that struggle was a conflict in action and inner voice.

      We can elevate our minds to make the most of situations, but channeling positivity where external circumstance doesn’t match our internal convictions is a treacherous trail. As you say, aligning work aligns the mind.

      Flow-state is synonymous to being in the zone, you’re right. It’s amazing how something so measurable is so malleable by the mind. Thanks for the thoughts!

      • http://www.acalltoaction.net/ Trevor Wilson

        Ahh . . . the old external to internal dilemma. That’s a toughie. There are ways to help mitigate that conflict, but you’re right, ultimately what we do and what we think need to be in alignment if we wish to achieve higher levels of fulfillment.

        Cheers!

  • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

    I think we’re on the same path, Mehdi. I feel like I’m almost an All Star because it isn’t consistent, it comes and goes. Persistence in dawdling doesn’t come natural for me because I am very impatient. Inspiration takes time to grow and I remind myself of that, yet it’s so hard.

    That brings me back to point 4, don’t expect. That’s a great mindset to keep when you are producing or even formulating the idea for production. If you expect too much you will only become frustrated.

    • MehdiRene

      Hey Vincent, it’s not consistent even for the All-Stars, becoming fluid in how the mechanics of your own mind play into creating flow in your life are the essence of an All-Star. It sounds like you’re making all the right moves and recognizing what helps and conflicts your progress.

      With impatience, that is something we all need to battle with. As society breeds instant feedback, we want big results fast, but it takes perseverance and dedication.  Use dawdling as a way to prime yourself for a burst of creativity as your inspiration grows. And yes, it’s ultimately helpful to lower your expectations before you begin. If you’re going to bike across the country and expect to be there in a jiff, you won’t make it or will hate it as time slowly passes throughout the trip. If you see it as one continuous journey and set small daily goals, you’ll ultimately benefit and get farther than thought possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Young/100000912154584 Daniel Young

    Um, I read alot of things like this.. and yeah, no. Though this perhaps should give a clue as to ‘stop looking to others for what you yourself should do.’

  • http://twitter.com/GoalsHappenHere Goals Happen Here

    I would agree with all of it except maybe the dawdling part….I find that if I stay quiet and undistracted, the thoughts flow more easily…..

    • MehdiRene

       It’s all about finding what works for you. Sometimes and for some people, the patience to sit quietly is there, but when we’re working to develop an awareness it can benefit to dawdle as you prime your mind to create a more welcoming environment. I’m with you, though, when it comes time to create, distractions need to disappear and silence is best. Keep on flowing!

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