Where EVERYONE is a maker

Episode 3: Getting to Your Happy Place

Your happy place: where time ceases to exist and you’re the chingona of your domain. It’s also known as creative flow. But how do you get there? Is it on your GPS? Is a mere song really enough to transport you to your happy place? Yeah, and it’s worth adding to your creative toolbox!

After listening to this episode, you’ll be able to identify your own “happy place” and on your way to developing your own hype song and how to use it!

Scroll down for the full episode transcript.

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Buen día, welcome to The Maker Muse Podcast. I’m Paulette Erato, The Maker Muse. And today we’re talking about creative flow, and using one of the many tools in your toolbox of creativity to get to it.

In the very first episode, we talked about how the brain works, and how your thoughts and feelings are determined. Then in the second episode, I briefly mentioned how our brain likes solid proof of stuff before we’re inclined to believe new ideas. That’s why I gave you two examples of art and science coexisting and making sweet music together.

Speaking of music, that’s yet another example of science and creativity together. There’s math behind the way sounds come together, and the performing of music is an art in itself. See, there are examples everywhere.

So today, let’s talk about creative flow. What is it? And how do we get to it? The term flow state was coined by psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeanne Nakamura, it’s basically when you’re on a creative high, or in the zone.

Nakamura describes this as an optimal psychological state, characterized by the enjoyment of deep absorption in what one is doing. Csikszentmihalyi he had a TED talk, where he goes even further saying, “There’s this focus, that once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity, you know exactly what you want to do, from one moment to the other. Sense of time disappears, you forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.” I’ll link you to the video and article about his description of flow in the show notes. It’s really cool.

So when you’re in this flow state, it’s kind of like being in your happy place, right? But where’s your happy place? How do you get there? Can you find it on Google Maps? For some of you? Yeah, maybe yours might include a physical location. But your happy place is also a state of mind like Nakamura said, an optimal psychological state. So how do you get into that right state of mind to achieve a flow state?

Let’s go back to talking about music. Do you have a hype song? Do you know what that is? Okay. Imagine a stadium where big game is about to take place. Let’s talk American football. You know, when the team is running out onto the field, and the music is blaring, the cheerleaders are shaking the pom poms, and the crowd is going nuts. That is what a hype song makes you feel like.

Or, if you grew up in the 80s, and 90s, watching wrestling, each character had their own walk on music, right? I haven’t watched wrestling in a while, but I’m pretty sure they still all have theme songs. These types of songs all have the same purpose: to get you in the right mindset, either to kick ass on the football field, or at work. And everyone should have one. Music is an incredible way to change your mood. And when you change your mood, you can also change your state of mind.

So get a song that makes you feel like you’re about to go kick ass. In fact, get a whole damn playlist. In my Facebook group, everyone is encouraged to add to the list, we actually have a community playlist and if you want to add to it, I’ll leave a link to the group below. It’s free to join and you get a whole playlist at your disposal. So check the show notes.

And then you have to use it. Let me tell you how I use mine, which I actually picked up in my happy place. The physical location, the gym. Yes, I’m one of those people. If you’re not, it’s okay. Stick with me anyway. So if you know anything about LA and traffic, then you know it sucks. Many many millions of people live here. And it always feels like they’re all directly in front of you not driving. And don’t even get me started on the 405, that freeway will suck years off your life traversing it just one time.

But you know that going in. You know that traffic is going to suck when you drive around in this area so you just got to make up your mind to not let it get to you. Because traffic is the worst, right? But traffic isn’t happening TO you. It’s like the rain. It just happens.

So I have a playlist for days when I’m going to be alone in the car stuck in traffic, one song in particular. See, I used to work out at LA Fitness, which always has the same songs on repeat, right? Well, it just worked out that whenever this one song would come on, it would be right before I started my deadlifts. And the song would work to pump me up so I could get those big heavyweights off the ground. It would get me excited, it would get me focused.

Whoever is putting the LA Fitness soundtrack together apparently knows what they’re doing, because that song works. But outside of the gym when I want to feel just as hot and empowered as I do lifting heavy shit up off the ground like the badass I am, that song works then too. Because the song is the shortcut to the happy place in my head. Or at least it will provide me enough of a mental detour to be able to avoid getting irrationally irritated about the mess on the road in front of me.

So now, when I’m stuck in traffic, and I’m trying my best not to get pissed about it, I play that song. The happy feelings that come from that song erase all the negative bias I have towards traffic. It reminds me of my happy place at the gym lifting weights, and that’s a place I really enjoy being. So I can kind of transfer those feelings from my happy place onto this not-so-exciting situation I’m in, and I still feel good.

Remember, you get to decide how you react to situations, right? We talked about that in episode one. And this hype song or playlist is just one of the tools you can use for that. In fact, if I’m on my way home, I make sure to cue up that song so it ends just as I’m pulling into the garage. So I’m coming off the freeway, the exit to my house and the very same song place. It’s called High Hopes by Panic at the Disco. I don’t even know what other songs this band has. Cuz remember, I was just exposed to this one song at the gym. That song is poppy, it’s upbeat, it just makes me feel happy.

This is important because when we feel good, we perform better. As in we get into the flow, hence kicking ass at the gym. But even better, there’s a line in the chorus that goes, “I always had a feeling I was going to be that one in a million.” Imagine speaking that line to yourself over and over. It kind of becomes a mantra.

Anyway, as I’m coming off the freeway and about to get to my house, I scream that chorus out. And I don’t sound like a dying cow when I’m singing at the top of my lungs. Even if I do I don’t care. I’m in the car alone. No one can hear me. And it makes me feel so damn good. It makes me feel empowered. It makes me feel like a woman on top of her shit. I am driving a V eight. I’m sexy as fuck, I am looking good. And then when I’ve parked that car after singing that song and come upstairs to my home, my husband does not have to deal with a cranky woman who just sat in traffic for an hour. He’s dealing with the best version of his wife walking in the door instead. Mr. Erato, you are very welcome.

So how does getting into your mental happy place translate to being in the flow. If you can see or feel what it’s like to be in the so called happy place, then you’re just a hair’s width away from a flow state. For me personally, it’s that projection of feelings I talked about a while ago. What I feel when I’m physically in my happy place (the gym), and what I’m doing (feeling like a badass because I’m defying gravity with weights), I feel giddy. I feel empowered. Hell, I feel invincible. And when I feel like that I’m at my best. I’m nicer, I’m friendlier. And I feel like I have superpowers. If anyone needs a car pulled off a kid, I am here for you. And it feels like all of that is effortless. Let me tell you, it’s not easy to lift 200 or more pounds off the ground multiple times. But I know I can do it. I’ve also taken pictures and video of myself doing that thing. So I have proof that I am strong. And remember how our brain loves proof.

I used to get the same kind of, well, let’s call it a high because that’s kind of what it feels like, when I’d spent hours in the darkroom back when I was a photographer. I’d even joke that I’d never seen the sun on weekends because I used to spend my entire Saturdays and Sundays in the lab. This is back before we went fully digital. There aren’t a lot of windows when you’re developing film or printing pictures. You need darkness. But it was amazing to see what you made come to life. Rolling the film onto the plastic wheels in complete darkness, agitating the cylinders for what felt like hours. And then finally printing them onto paper and watching the images magically appear in the developer. I literally lost hours of my life creating pictures.

No, I didn’t lose them. They were spent creating art, right? But I did completely lose track of time. And those were some of the best times of my life. If you’ve never been in a darkroom and experienced a picture suddenly appearing on a piece of paper, it’s freaking magical. I know most people today shoot digital and so do I. But there was something about that old system that gives me a bit of…nostalgia. Hell, I can even almost smell the chemicals as I sit here recounting this for you. It smells like vinegar in here. Sense memories are a hell of a thing. Can you believe I conjured that up just by taking a trip down memory lane? And it was pretty easy too because that was a trip through my happy place. The place where my creativity was flowing like a waterfall. It’s a state of mind. It’s a physical place. It’s a memory that’s readily accessible.

You probably have something like this too. If you’ve ever been lost in fixing your car, tinkering with something, maybe even at work when you’re just getting through your day with ease and hey, suddenly it’s time to go home. Check you out, you were in the zone. And that’s what Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi meant when talking about flow state. And the shortcut to getting there as simple as playing a song, your song, your hype song.

So here’s what I want you to take away from this episode. One, your happy place can be a physical location, but it’s also a state of mind. And two, if you don’t already have one, get a hype song and use it whenever you need to get in the zone.

If you want more help finding the route to your happy place, grab a free copy of my easy to follow Destination: Innovation Roadmap. It’s a quick five step overview for getting to your own creative core. The link is in the show notes.

And that’s a burrito! Thanks for listening to The Maker Muse Podcast. I’d love if we could make this a regular thing for you and me, so please subscribe to the podcast and tell all of your family and friends about it. And I’d really appreciate it if you could rate and review it wherever you’re listening to this right now. Nos vemos!

Transcribed by otter.ai.

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