How to enter the zone and demonstrate the best performance? People who achieve unprecedented results in sports often say things like “It feels great!” This can be explained by the “flow theory” of psychology. I will explain how to enter the zone where you can increase your concentration and experience the state of bliss.
Is there a way to enter the zone? What is “flow” that brings you the ultimate pleasure?
Do you know what kind of psychological state people are in when they perform at their best, like Olympic gold medalists? The keyword to solve the mystery is “flow” . It is a state commonly referred to as “zone” or “entering the zone” , which means the moment when the mind is focused and immersed in a state of bliss.
It’s a little old story, but Kosuke Kitajima, who won the gold medal in the men’s breaststroke at the Athens Olympics, famously said , “It feels so good!” This ultimate pleasure that led to the best results is exactly the state of mind of a person who puts out the best performance in the state of “in the zone” and “in the state of flow”.
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Why do you get the best performance when you’re in the zone?
When explaining the “flow theory” that creates the state of entering the zone, the famous diagrams often cited are the “Yerkees-Dodson law” and the “inverted U model”. It explains the inverted U-shaped relationship between arousal level and performance.
When you are not too tense and not too relaxed, and you can concentrate on your work, you can perform at your best and enjoy a blissful moment.
The “awakening level” on the horizontal axis is the state of being awake. A state of high arousal is excessive tension and excitement, and a state of low arousal is too relaxed. “Performance” on the vertical axis shows how well the results of actions are manifested.
As shown in the figure, it can be seen that high performance can be demonstrated when the “awakening level” is in the middle area (2) “optimal”. It is a state of moderate tension and relaxation.
If the arousal level is too high, it will enter the area of ① “too nervous”, and if it is too low, it will enter the area of ③”sluggish”, and neither will be able to demonstrate its performance.
② When you are at the top of the “optimal” area, what you experience is the “flow” or “zone.” When people feel that they have performed their best in any activity, they say things like, “I was able to relax without straining my shoulders,” or “I enjoyed it without being too tense.”
One of the conditions for entering the zone is a balance between challenge and skill.
If you want to experience moments of bliss at work, school, sports, or any other activity, it’s important to strive for “being in the zone” or “flow.”
So, what can you be conscious of to enter the zone? Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist who advocated the “Flow Theory”, states that one of the conditions is that “both challenges and skills are high and the balance is balanced . ” Take a look at the diagram below.
Created by the author based on “Flow Experience and Good Business: Work and Life” M. Csikszentmihalyi (Author) Hiroshi Omori (Translation Supervision) / Sekai Shisosha
According to Csikszentmihalyi, when you start things, you are in a low A state of both challenge and skill. I enjoy taking on new challenges, but I cannot say that I am in the zone or flow. When the skill goes up, it will eventually reach the position of B and get tired of it. Naturally, it also strays away from the flow.
At that time, it is a chance to raise the difficulty of the task and make an effort! As you work hard, you will be able to balance your skills and step up to the position of C, “Flow” (zone). At this point, you finally reach a state of mind where you think, “Work is fun!” and “Studying is fun!” Of course, there are also results.
However, if you get used to that level, it will drift to the D position and become boring. At that time, the next chance to reinvigorate! Let’s take on an even more difficult task. You can continue to tap into the E point where the balance of challenge and skill is balanced and experience the ‘flow’ or ‘zone’. Because the challenges and skills are advanced, you will be able to feel a stronger pleasure (sometimes “It feels so good!”) than at point C.
8 elements that create a state in the zone
To experience “in the zone” and “flow” as described above requires a balance of challenge and skill. If you’re feeling bored with your current life, try something higher-level and intentionally aim to get into the zone.
Csikszentmihalyi lists a total of eight elements, including those mentioned above, that make up “flow” or “being in the zone.”
1. Goals are clear … Goals are important, but so is the process. Always clear about what you are aiming for
2. Receive immediate feedback … You can consult with others about your efforts and achievements and listen to their opinions
3. Balance challenges and skills ……As mentioned above
4. I am deeply focused ……I am immersed in what I need to work on and am deeply focused
5. I value the present ……I am not distracted by the past or the future, and I am working on it now 6. I am
able to control myself …I am not influenced by my emotions and circumstances, and I am able to control my own actions
7. I forget how time passes …time flies by
8. Losing myself…I am so absorbed in what’s in front of me that I forget my own existence.
Even if you run away from what you need to do and immerse yourself in play, you can’t enter the zone
The experience of being in the zone is more than just doing what you love. You can’t “get in the zone” by escaping your responsibilities and getting lost in aimless play . Even if you are happy at that moment, you will soon feel the emptiness.
While clarifying what you want to aim for and incorporating the opinions of others, you control yourself. Based on this, I will work on it so absorbedly that I forget the passage of time. Then, you can approach the state of “in the zone” and “flow”.
Through work, study, sports, and all other activities, we hope to grow ourselves and gain great excitement through experiences. By all means, why don’t you think about which activity you want to enjoy the best “zone” and “flow” through?