Discovering the enjoyment of life ‘In The Zone’ – immersion in activities that bring total focus, creativity and personal fulfillment is one of the greatest contributors to authentic happiness. When one is in The Zone, time passes without our notice, we have almost no sense of what is happening around us, we don't hear the phone ringing, we are so busy having fun that we don't want it to stop... You know it - we have all been there at some time, and probably not often enough. When people are immersed in doing something they love doing, benefits such as good health, longevity and fulfilling personal relationships become much more readily attainable.
People in the Zone are normally busy doing something that they are really good at. So if you ever wanted a clue about what you are best at, think back of the times you have found yourself in the Zone and try to remember what you were busy doing at the time.
When one is so totally immersed in an activity there is not much room for feeling anything. Which can be a good thing. It is a good way to banish the blues or bad thoughts and events out of your mind. People in the Zone exhibit extraordinary creativity and problem solving abilities, as well as focus far beyond their normal levels.
And another thing about being in the Zone is that when you eventually come out of it, you may feel tired or drained, but you will be happy. The act of reflecting back on the intense immersion is a joy-promoting activity of itself.
But being engaged offers another dimension of happiness too – it is the dimension of being in the present. It is not possible to feel sad or negative when your entire awareness is focused on the present. The bad thing about focusing on the past is that that is the place where some of the bad things happened which could influence our current thoughts. So hanging around in the past isn’t a clever thing to do.
But neither is hanging around in the future. Because then you are in dreamer mode – where you think about what must be, but you are not making it happen. But in the present, you ARE MAKING IT HAPPEN. It is the most powerful place to be and the only part of your life that is almost completely under your control. It is difficult to justify spending much time in any dimension other than the one where you are in charge. And it is a conscious choice to live in the present. It is a way in which you can take responsibility for your thoughts.
So what to do if you are really trying hard to focus on the present but the shadows of the past are trying to pull you back all the time? Or the dreams of the future are seducing you to follow them into a place where you won’t manage to accomplish anything? The easiest answer is to engage all or as many of your senses as you can to bring you into the present.
Waking up your senses is a sure-fire way to land yourself in the present. The act of engaging with a flower is an awesome example of getting yourself into the present. You can look at the flower and appreciate it’s colour by using your visual sense. Enjoying the perfume of the flower and perhaps placing a drop of it’s sweet nectar on your tongue will wake up your sense of smell and taste. You may be lucky enough to find a bee buzzing around the flower to engage your sense of hearing and if you brush your fingers over the petals or the thorns your tactile sense will come alive. Savoring such an engaging experience is yet another way of engaging the event long after it has passed, but getting the same positive emotion benefits as if it were happening right now.
If you are a passionate nature lover, art lover, music lover, dancer, speed freak, athlete or artist of any description, then engaging your senses will be one of the ways to take you from an ordinary moment to an engaged moment.
Caring human touch is responsible for release of oxytocin – also known as the cuddle hormone, which promotes human bonding. Bonding is an activity that makes you feel good about being in the present, and it is uncommon to feel any emotion but joy in the moment of human bonding.
It has been an invigorating experience sharing the benefits of living an engaged life in the present moment with you. I reluctantly withdraw myself from the Zone I occupied while writing this post, but I am so pleased to reflect on having been able to share this really cool information with you.
Next time we will unpack the R in PERMA, Relationships. I don't know too much about research in relationships and positive emotion right now, so I have to go do some homework for our next post.
Be present, be in the Zone for as many hours per day as you can manage!