August 30, 2011

Feast of Flow

Picture unrelated.
Almost any activity can become more of a "flow experience", simply by changing how we think about it.  Previously, we talked about the conditions that get us into the zone; so, today, let's modify our thinking to make a flow experience out of what might normally be an ordinary chore: making dinner.

If you're anything like me, and I bet you are, you often take what could be a perfectly enjoyable task and turn it into a bear with crappy thinking.  "I wish this were done, I'd rather be doing anything else, this is so boring."  Such a happiness-robbing approach to life! Why not make the day-to-day into opportunities for flow?

Making dinner is the perfect example of an activity that is ripe for producing flow, but for many of us is just another thing to deal with.  Why do many professional chefs consider themselves artists, relishing (pun intended) the act of preparing meals while the rest of us consider the process work?  I would argue that the chefs who enjoy their job now look at cooking as a source of flow.

When you think about it, cooking has all the ingredients (zing!) for good flow:

1. Well-defined goals: Make a meal quickly, make it taste good, make it look good, have left-overs.

2. Feedback: Taste the food as you cook.  Good? Bad?  You know immediately.  Burning smell?  Bad.  Feedback? Good.

3. Appropriate challenge: Should you tackle steamed lobster for the first time on a Tuesday after a 12-hour workday?  Probably not.  Pick something you can handle that isn't boring.

See what I mean?  Dinner should serve up (wink) some perfectly prepared flow.  Try it yourself:

Feast of Flow

Task: Change your thinking to turn "making dinner" into a flow experience.

Info: Use the principles of flow above to alter your thinking about the process of making dinner.  Set some goals (what to make, how quickly, quick clean-up), look for feedback (focus on how the food looks, smells, tastes), and pick an appropriate recipe (something fun and new, but at your level).

Goal: Increase enjoyment during dinner.

Post your thoughts in the comments!

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