“Only direct control of experience, the ability to derive moment-by-moment enjoyment from everything we do, can overcome the obstacles to fulfillment.”
-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Godfather of Flow State)
The flow state is awesome. No outside distractions, barely any conscious thought, just pure zone. Hours pass as though they are minutes. Time not only stands still but becomes irrelevant. In fact, everything becomes irrelevant except for the activity we are immersed in. Maybe it’s an amazing conversation, a great pickup game of basketball, or, if you are truly lucky, your job. Crazy thing is you can’t even recognize what it is while in it! It’s not only something we rarely reach but at its core it’s damn near an emotionless emotion. We do it, but we didn’t know we were doing it. We weren’t even trying. Instead we got out of the way and let it happen.
What is this thing called flow state? And how do we reach it?
Flow state is quite simply when you are so fully immersed in an activity such that you are performing at your highest level. Everything is working for you. You can do no wrong. In basketball, you can’t miss a shot (think Steve Nash at the free throw line). In conversation, the other person is hanging on your every word and likewise you on theirs. At your job, you make every task look easy and effortless and in fact that’s how it feels for you.
This all sounds great right!? So how do we get there?
There are elements that must exist for us to find flow. The first is a clearly defined goal. A goal must exist because it puts our mind into a clear and focused place. Our focus is on whatever activity we must engage in to reach our goal. Games often times put us in flow because they have clearly defined rules we must follow in order to reach the goal of winning. Secondly, we must have a high skill level in the activity. Without the proper skills, we cannot reach the goal. As soon as we fall off track in our quest to reach the goal, we lose our laser like flow state focus due to frustration. Likewise, if we find the activity too easy (our skills are above the challenge of the activity), we will grow bored and lose flow state. If we were to rate the challenge level for an activity from 1-10 (1 being the easiest and 10 being the hardest), we would want to be functioning at a 7 or 8. The activity requires a high level of skill but it is not so challenging that it is above our skill set. Lastly, we must enjoy the activity. It has been found that people most often reach flow when doing their favorite activity, yet at the same time people report reaching flow at work even when they are not bowled over with happiness while at the office. This can be attributed to the defined set of rules and increased concentration that the office calls for.
Now check this out; free time is NOT typically more conducive to us finding flow than work. Our nervous systems are tuned to attend to external dangers and signals. We have not adapted to being able to handle long periods of time without obstacles and danger. Unless you have learned how to effectively use your leisure time, having more free time will NOT improve your quality of life. Based on numbers reported by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his seminal book “Finding Flow”, US teenagers reach flow 13% of the time while they watch TV, 34% of the time they are engaged in a hobby, and 44% of the time they are involved in sports or games. Moral of the story: In your free time, find a hobby, sport, or game you love. This will improve your quality of life AND get you into the flow state more often.
Now let’s get into the personality type that gets into flow more often.
In my blog on Sexual Charisma (coming soon!) I talked about the godfather of Flow Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (who, for ease of reading, I’ll refer to as MC). In his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, MC not only defines Flow but also goes on to define the personality type associated with those who most easily reach the Flow State.
MC hypothesized that people with several very specific personality traits may be better able to achieve flow more often than the average person. These personality traits include curiosity, persistence, low self-centeredness, and a high rate of performing activities for intrinsic reasons only. People with most of these personality traits are said to have an autotelic personality.
Autotelic is used to describe people who are internally driven, and as such may exhibit a sense of purpose and curiosity. This determination is an exclusive difference from being externally driven, where things such as comfort, money, power, or fame are the motivating force.
In a society that values capitalism, outward appearances, and materialism, this concept of developing some of the traits of the autotelic becomes more relevant than ever. Imagine getting past what others think and changing your mindset to find those things that you fully enjoy and can lose yourself in. What would that mean for your work? Going to work not because you have to pay the bills but because you ACTUALLY want to be there. Leaving with a paycheck and not being astounded that you are getting paid for something you would do for free. To many, I’m sure it sounds unattainable, but it’s not. It may take time to get this point, but it starts with your mindset. Many of us grow up thinking everything is about responsibility. Do what we are supposed to do. Don’t ruffle any feathers. But there is a problem with this approach. We never actually learn what WE want and as a result severely stunt our own growth. The autotelic personality is one that goes against the grain externally but at the same time ACTUALLY goes WITH the grain of their own desires and strives to learn what makes them tick to design their lifestyle based around their own self discovery.
“An autotelic person needs few material possessions and little entertainment, comfort, power, or fame because so much of what he or she does is already rewarding. Because such persons experience flow in work, in family life, when interacting with people, when eating, even when alone with nothing to do, they are less dependent on the external rewards that keep others motivated to go on with a life composed of routines. They are more autonomous and independent because they cannot be as easily manipulated with threats or rewards from the outside. At the same time, they are more involved with everything around them because they are fully immersed in the current of life.” -Wikipedia
One researcher did find that people with an autotelic personality have a greater preference for “high-action-opportunity, high-skills situations that stimulate them and encourage growth” than those without an autotelic personality. It is in such high-challenge, high-skills situations that people are most likely to enter the flow state.
Here is a great visual graph to illustrate this:
To summarize, here is a simple 5 step process for reaching flow state:
1. Have a clear goal
2. Enjoy the activity involved to reach the goal
3. The activity requires a high level of skill
4. You posses this high level of skill
5. Eliminate all other distractions to ensure full immersion
To dive even deeper, check out the godfather of Flow's book:
Man on left, "What do you think? Is it strong enough?"
Man on right, "I don't know...Your wife's kind of a bitch...Maybe we should use concrete instead of wood"
I first saw this term used by Mystery in his “Mystery Method.” I like the term a lot and elaborated on it to give it my own flavor. It follows the same template as Nina Brown’s Personal Boundary Types. You can see my blog on Personal Boundary.
How firm or weak your personal boundary is when tested by women.
Wussy/AFC(Average Frustrated Chump)/Yes Man- A man with a very weak personal boundary with women. Will bend over backwards for a woman and never say No to any wish or desire that she asks for. This is an individual who constantly gets used by women and as a result earns no respect and quickly becomes unattractive as a sexual partner. This is a man who does not get with women other men would call “hot.” He also has a hard time in general attracting women.
Developmental Man: A man who falls somewhere within the spectrum of being a Yes Man and a True Man. This is the category where most men exist. Still experiencing life and experimenting to see what he likes and dislikes. When tested by a woman he knows that the word No exists but he does not use it as often as he should…And he is usually aware of this fact but his emotional ability to say No has not yet caught up with his intellectual knowledge. This man may land a “hot” woman once in awhile but cannot keep her interested and if she does stick around, she has the upper hand and typically manipulates him for her own gain.
Unavailable Man: A man who at some point was emotionally scarred by a woman or women and has firmed up his frame so much that he never allows a woman to enter his boundary. He is convinced that women are nothing but trouble and will only cause hurt and disappointment. This type of a man is rare due to man’s innate high desire for sex. He is unavailable and therefore rarely if ever gets with women.
A True Man- A man with a firm yet flexible personal boundary. This man knows that a woman is a compliment to his life and not his end result. He does not waver from his life’s goals and purpose because of a woman. When he does not like what a woman is asking of him, he quickly and efficiently says No and feels no need to even have to explain himself. He is not a jerk or arrogant about it, he is simply firm and unwavering. This is an individual with strong character who naturally attracts women. These men are always in high demand. This man is unaffected by the ebbs and flows of the moods of a woman he is with.
For more info on Strength of Frame and other Pick Up Aritstry concepts, Mystery is a true OG:
I mean...At least it's a Dodge Viper!
Have you ever had that feeling where you felt like you had so much to do that you shouldn’t even sleep? Or you have so much to do that when you try to go to sleep you can’t because all you’re doing is laying in bed thinking about how much you need to do? If you are anything like me, I’m sure you have. Over the past couple weeks I had been feeling this way and coincidentally enough I have a friend who has been feeling the same way. After talking through our issues for a a few days, I came to a few realizations and a formula that has already helped me and hopefully can help you as well!
Before I dive head first into the pool and begin swimming through the waters of obligations, to do lists, goals, etc, I’d like to first talk about priorities and why it’s important to prioritize. Prioritizing achieves several things for us. It forces us to first analyze our goals and what goes into achieving these goals. It forces us to get detailed and to “cut away” the fat. In other words, eliminating those activities that are time wasters while doing only the things that bring us the biggest return for our time. By streamlining things, what I’ve found is that I can forget about things that would otherwise cause me to feel overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed is a stressful feeling. Stress stifles creativity. And without creativity I find it very difficult to efficiently come up with and write blogs like this one.
Both myself and my friend who I had this conversation with agreed that as we have gotten older it has become more and more difficult to eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed. Both of us work, have started businesses, do our damndest to workout 3-5x per week, eat well, and maintain our relationships. With so much to do it and not enough time to do it, it becomes more and more important to actually do the things in our Health/Wellness and Career/Financial pillars that have the greatest impact and in our Relationships(social) pillar that are most enjoyable in our lives.
Prioritizing is a very personal thing. We all have different goals. We all enjoy doing different things. However, this is the formula I have developed to help me better utilize my time. The formula assumes that you already have goals in mind, have to do lists a mile long, and need an efficient way to organize and ultimately execute your plans. It then takes something big(your goals) and narrows them down into smaller action steps and finally allows you to take a realistic look at what you have time, energy, and resources to actually accomplish.
I like to use a spread sheet to map this all out. You will use separate sheets for your goals list, goals list by each pillar in order, then a final sheet with your two biggest priority goals with steps for how to achieve them.
Step 1: Write out every single goal you can possibly think of. Use the pillars to help you:
Pillar 1: Health/Wellness,
Pillar 2: Career/Financial
Pillar 3: Relationships/Social
Step 2: Separate them into each pillar category.
Step 3: Prioritize them from most important to least important in each pillar category. This is an important step because if you are let's say pillar 2 heavy in your time and energy focus, this will force you to focus in on your other pillars.
Step 3: List out the activities/resources(energy, time, money) needed to reach these goals.
Step 4: Visualize doing these activities day to day. Get REALISTIC here. Don’t take on too much! This is my biggest challenge as I typically want to do 8 things at once. Remember, it’s better to do one thing really well then 8 things half-assed!
Step 5: Focus only on your top 1-3 goals and activities that are most important in each pillar and temporarily forget about the rest. It does not mean you will never come back to those goals. It just means that you are putting them on the back burner and will be coming back to them down the road.
Step 6: Make a separate sheet that lists your two biggest goals and the steps you will need to take to complete them.
Step 7: Map out how you will allocate your time day to day leaving social time and time for your regular maintenance activities (haircuts, dentist, etc.).
Step 8: DO THE FU@#ING WORK!
Often times, I like to relate things back to attraction. This process of prioritizing helps a man be more attractive for several reasons. For starters, it requires a man actually establish goals. Ask any woman and she will tell you that a man with ambition is attractive, especially in regards to having long term potential (Short Term Game vs Long Term Goal). Also, prioritizing helps to strip away unimportant things and eliminate stress thus leaving a man calmer and in more control of himself. Guess what, that’s attractive. And finally, if you know your goals, know what it takes to reach them, AND you know realistically when you are spending time reaching them and when you have time for women, you have just firmed up your Personal Boundary and improved your Strength of Frame. And you guessed it, that’s attractive!
Here is a quick intro to a very important concept. What I have below is a portion directly from Wikipedia. I really like the intro from Wikipedia:
Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him- or herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits.
Types of personal boundaries
‘Personal boundaries include physical, mental, and spiritual boundaries’ – (for physical boundaries see personal space and proxemics). ‘Mental boundaries pertain to beliefs, emotion, and intuition…Spiritual boundaries pertain to self-esteem [&] sense of identity’. Together they constitute “psychological boundaries”.
According to Nina Brown, there are four types of psychological boundary:
For a much more in depth explanation check out Dr. Paul and David DeAngelo. Although a few years old, their program called "Deep Inner Game" is outstanding in the area of Personal Boundary...
For my take on Personal Boundary as it pertains to women, read my blog on Strength of Frame.
Short Term Vs Long Term Game
In doing my own reading, study, and application/discovery in my own life, I've come to what I believe to be the best explanation(from a scientific stand point) to distinguish between these two concepts. I do need to give credit to the now defunct "The Social Art Blog" as well as other pick up artists’ who have contributed to this explanation. Pay attention here fellas because this explanation is going to give you a great frame of reference for attraction in women. Read, re-read, and fully understand this as through experience with women you will begin to see these Elements of Attraction play out and you will begin to see your strong points as well as your weaknesses.
For starters, why do I make such a big deal of this word attraction? Well it's as simple as this; without attraction she won't sleep with you. Done and done. With that said it would make sense that the skill set involved with creating attraction would be one of the first things we would learn as men. Right!? Unfortunately it’s not and we have been relegated to learn it on our own until recent years in which the seduction community has become more mainstream. With that said, let’s get into the elements of Short Term Game or Sex Based Attraction.
These elements are:
Contrary to popular belief, ALL of these elements CAN be worked on. It is true that some of us are blessed better looking than others, but we are ALL blessed with DIFFERENT TYPES of looks. It’s important for us as men to play to our looks and do all that we can to maximize through our style of dress, hair(or shaved head if you are balding), working out, eating well, etc. to maximize our identity. Let me equate this to acting. You’d never see Steve Buschemi play Hansel in Zoolander but he plays a mean lead role in Boardwalk Empire! Steve Buschemi is a man who clearly got the memo and understood early on the types of roles he would fit best in. So do yourself a favor and find your role! As for the final four; Body Language, Sexual Charisma, Kino Escalation(using touch from first initial interaction with a woman all the way to sex), and personality/flirting these can also ALL be learned and internalized. Guys who have mastered all of these elements are the guys that the pick up community calls “naturals.” It’s also interesting to note that these are often times the guys who because they got these concepts early on, fail to see value in career advancement or getting good grades in school. Often it isn’t until they hit a point where they get bored with flings with women and want to meet a high quality woman that they realize the necessity in building their own career(Yes I realize I’m making a big generalization here and it is not always true). What a perfect segue into Long Term Game or Survival Based Attraction.
The elements of Long Term Game or Survival Based Attraction are:
It’s a very alpha definition but it is also a VERY GOOD breakdown on long term attraction. All four elements convey long term potential. Great leaders control men. Women like that. Female pre-selection also can be called social credibility(social proof in the PUA community). Quite simply, you are with women meaning you are already liked by women(or have paid for them…Sorry, I lived in Miami and LA long enough to become jaded). Women like this. Fame/Status(ie…actors, rockstars, certain businessmen, etc). Pretty certain you’d agree that women also like this. And finally Assets/Wealth. A man who has money and stuff. Guess what, women like this.
The goal with Utopia Life is to develop the complete man. The man who knows, understands, and can execute short term pickup and use them in a relationship to maintain strong sexual attraction and is developing or has developed their long term potential. The goal is to avoid being the poor guy who hits the age of 40 and realizes all he has accrued is a bedpost full of notches and a few diseases he could have done without and conversely being the rich guy who just bought a Lamborghini and thinks it comes standard with tight game.