Things I think about when I'll have a baby in a few days
5 min read

Things I think about when I'll have a baby in a few days

Things I think about when I'll have a baby in a few days

We thought we had another 10 days before the new arrival but the doctor thinks otherwise, chucking my plans to sit down and write something deeply thought-provoking and witty off the table.

I'll try to avoid slipping into any cliche, gushy prose about how having a child changes your life. It obviously does, most of us don't have small humans in our homes regularly taking dumps in their trousers until these little creatures appear.

But I am going to share something with you that I wrote around a year ago which relates to my current and future offspring (kind of).

I never intended to share the little note below because, quite frankly, I found it to be rather cheesy. Something a Twitter thread specialist would write or something.

Yet at the same time it was - is - a personal reflection on the moments in life when I feel truly calm, a rare thing in my head and I'm sure for many of you as well.

I have been thinking recently about the kind of advice I'd impart to my children, with the hope of looking wise and not someone who is just making it up as he goes along (because I am). So I started to jot down some notes and one thing continues to stand out for me.

Going with the right flow

Now, what I'm about to share is about the moments in life I can say I feel most calm and focused, at one with what I'm doing. No thoughts of emails, no worries about not having enough turnips for dinner, and no fears about how I look or feel.

And there's a name for these little sacred moments: flow state.

This, it seems, is the most powerful path towards simply feeling good and breaking your mind out of gridlock.

A chap called Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (don't ask me to write that out again) came up with the term flow state. He was intrigued when observing painters seemingly lost in their work. What really piqued his interest was what they did once they finished their work. They didn't go straight to a gallery to sell them or show them off to their neighbours. Instead, they would simply put the painting to one side and begin the process again.

"When they finished, the object, the outcome was not important," said Mihaly.

Getting into a flow state is finding activities that demand all of your focus, that have one clear goal and push you to the edge of your abilities.

You probably know what I mean. It is that activity that for a brief period makes you transcend the everyday stuff. It could be reading, it could be rock climbing, singing, painting... Something that you enjoy and something that tests your just enough that time seems to disappear.

(As an aside, it's funny how we are so linear with our feel for time. We all know how long five minutes at the dentists feels in comparison to five minutes watching your favourite movie. Yet we maintain five minutes is five minutes no matter what.)

It's proven that achieving moments of flow state in the day will make the rest of the day feel lighter, and it's just one of those facts that, to me at least, makes perfect sense. It's also proven that doing the opposite adds anxiety and stress.

When I reflect on what moments get me into a flow state, the healthiest one I can think of is surfing. I don't do it often anymore but when I'm sitting on a board, waiting to be smacked around by an oncoming wave, I feel truly peaceful.

Last year I was reflecting on that and how finding those moments are priceless. So I wrote something down.

Watching the swell

Point Break has surfing in it. 

I was watching the waves this weekend at the beach, wondering whether they were surfable. It struck me that learning to surf is a clear metaphor for how we learn and develop our skills, how we hone our craft.

At first, it's a mess. You're smashed by the waves, constantly falling and hitting the water face first. It hurts. You hang onto your board watching the waves roll towards you. You're not sure if the next one will carry you or not. There's only one way to find out...

Most of the waves you choose at first are the wrong ones. You miss one after the other - or they miss you. But just when you think you've had enough, one carries you a short distance, just for a moment. But that split second feels good.

Gradually, you start placing your feet in the right areas, start finding your balance. A moment comes when you think that maybe you can do this.

Slowly you begin to identify which waves will likely carry you before they break. The angles, the timing, the way they rise give you clues as to whether this is the one that can take you. If not, you can patiently wait for the next one. You're confident enough now not to rush into it.

You start feeling the waves, breathing in time with them. You feel part of this mass of the ocean.

Finally, you begin to catch one after the other. You wait for the right wave, set yourself comfortably, and within seconds, without a thought, you're on your feet quietly moving across the ocean. Your mind and body are focused on this one action filled with a thousand different instant decisions.

No longer having to think about it, you can just do it.

Not waiting for the end

Funnily enough, I think my favourite moment when surfing is not in fact the moment I catch a wave. It's the moment sitting out alone on a board, completely focused on the swell and pointing at the empty horizon, just waiting. But you can't have one part without the others.

I suppose that's the important thing about finding moments of flow state. It's not in the search of completing a task. You don't read a novel or watch a movie or listen to music just for the end. You enjoy and need the entire process, and it needs to challenge you, just enough.

Today, it's so easy to pick up things that don't challenge you but trick you into feeling progress. Reading emails, completing to-do lists, watching Emily in Paris... It's not real progress.  

Finding these moments is important and I'll try to impress upon my kids that they find such moments. With that in their back pockets, they'll always find moments to feel ok no matter what.

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