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For over a decade, David Tian, Ph.D. — a uniquely qualified therapist, life coach, and former university professor — has coached tens of thousands of people from over 87 countries to achieve happiness and success in their relationships, dating, psychology, and lifestyle.

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“The Man Up Show” Ep.153 – How To Be In Flow In Social Settings

How To Be In Flow In Social Settings

  • David Tian Ph.D. talks about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow in relation to socializing.

  • David Tian Ph.D.emphasizes the importance of being in the present.

  • In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. reveals to us what we need to address first to be in Flow.

Boom! Stop. I’m David Tian, PhD. And in this video, I address the question: How to reach flow in social settings. Welcome to Man Up Episode 153.

Masculinity for the intelligent man. I’m David Tian, PhD, and this is Man Up!

Hey! It’s David Tian, PhD, and for over the past ten years, I’ve been helping hundreds of thousands of people in over 87 countries attain success in love, life, and happiness and fulfillment. And welcome to Man Up Episode 153. I’m here at our Mastermind Summit at The W Singapore, as you can see the sign, and there’s our cool logo on the back.

Let me just show you this view of the W here on a nice weekend. It’s a great view of the pool. This is, in my opinion, the best hotel pool — Singapore’s actually heated a gigantic outdoor pool. Pretty cool. And we’re moving over this way to – I guess this is just coffee here. Let me show you some food. Hah, the guy’s moving out of the way. We’ve been having a ton of food all day. Too much food. I ate way too much for the lunch. Anyway, so – actually, we’re going to keep the music going in here.

So, I’m going to just head outside for a bit and answer this question. This question comes from James, and the question is – and here we are at the outdoor courtyard area. I’m going to rest my arm on this. That works. Oh, I’m actually in the light. Okay, so the question comes from James and he’s asking — He heard me talk about the flow state, and this is a well-documented psychological concept, and it was discovered/popularized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book entitled Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. And he’s asking, “How do I achieve the flow state while socializing?”

And it’s a pretty fair question. It’s an excellent question, actually, and one I can answer in a quick video. So, ultimately if you are — and he gave some examples. I can’t see them right now because I’m filming on my phone, but he gave some good examples of when he’s out socializing with people in new context. So, James is a guy who is not used to going to bars and clubs, but he’s starting to enjoy them now that he’s going more.

But he’s not used to going to them, and he’s wondering, “How do people have fun in these contexts when it’s really loud and everything?” And he often finds himself freezing in conversations. So, there’s a deeper reason for that, and the deeper fix for it – there’s a deeper solution for it – is to actually address the deeper insecurities. But at a surface level, there’s a really good fix that you can do. It’s a pretty quick fix.

And it’s to figure out how, in that environment, you can have fun. Because having fun and enjoying yourself — in Asia, having fun has a certain connotation about wild, high energy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s really just enjoying yourself. And the question is, “How can you enjoy yourself in that environment?”

So, a good rule of thumb that I teach in many of my courses is that when you’re socializing – in the moment, when you’re socializing, you want to be present. You want to be present with the people you’re interacting with. And 90 percent of your conscious mental processes, 90 percent of it should be taken up with simply one task. And maybe you can break it up into two tasks, but it’s basically have fun or enjoy yourself, and then second is help people enjoy themselves; help them have fun. And that’s it.

That takes up 90 percent. And after you are enjoying yourself, and they’re enjoying themselves, then you can make connections and see if they meet your standards to spend more time with them. But really, it’s about enjoying yourself first and foremost, because you got to do them in that order. If you skip any of those steps, you’re not going to enjoy yourself and it’s going to come off insincere, and it just won’t be enjoyable for either party.

Then the big question is – okay, have fun, enjoy yourself. How do I enjoy myself in this new environment? Well, that’s the trick. That’s the key. You got to figure that out, and only you know yourself. Because everybody’s a bit different in terms of – there are some people who like a particular type of music and some people who like a different type of music. So, go to the bars and clubs that have the music you like.

Or better yet, learn how to appreciate other types of music if it’s a bar that otherwise you like but the music isn’t great. So, the more you enjoy the environment and the activity, the more attractive you’ll be socially and the more effective you’ll be socially in terms of connecting with people. So, go to places that you enjoy being at, even if you’re not talking to anyone in particular at that moment – or even if there aren’t any pretty girls to talk to right then and there.

Now, you might only go to that place because there are going to be pretty people there and pretty girls there. I understand that. But if in the moment, you’re not talking to a pretty girl, you still got to be enjoying yourself. Or I shouldn’t say still – it’s even more important that you enjoy yourself. So, find ways to enjoy yourself in those venues. Now, during the daytime when I’m walking around and I want to be in a social mood, the most attractive mood I can be in is if I’m listening to music I like. So, I might walk around with my phone and put earphones on, and listen to some good music that I’m into, and it’s like a soundtrack as I go about walking through the shopping mall or the park.

I’m having a beverage that I really enjoy. I’m going into an area that I like to walk around in or has shops that I want to check out. So, I’m in a good mood. I’m already in a good mood. I’m already enjoying myself. And that puts me in that prerequisite frame of mind to be attractive when socializing. The other thing is, I really like to talk to people. I really like to get to know other people, especially people who have different backgrounds from me, which is one of the reasons I love travelling so much.

And if I’m talking to them and learning things about them, about those people specifically, those individuals that I don’t know and learning about their background, that’s intrinsically interesting to me. So, the more people I talk to, the more of a social mood I get into. Also, there’s part of the brain that’s responsible for socializing. You want to activate that. You want to get neural activity going in there. So, the easiest way to do that is to actually start socializing.

So, one of the things you can do to have fun is to talk to people who are safe, like the bartender or the staff at the place. They’re paid to be nice to you, right? So, you ask them how their day is going, anything interesting to do in this area, things like that; just small talk. Get good at small talk and make small talk to warm yourself up. And then when it comes to somebody that you’d like to know beyond friendship and you start conversation with them, you’ll already be in that frame of mind to have a social conversation.

And I’ve been speaking all day at this summit, so my voice is kind of shot. So, you’ll already be in that social frame of mind. And more importantly, you’ll be enjoying yourself. So, enjoying yourself is the most important step. The first step, the required, prerequisite first step to being attractive in social settings. So, focus first and foremost on that. And then everything starts to take care of itself. Because if you’re enjoying yourself, chances are the people you’re interacting with will start enjoying themselves too.

And then it’s easy then if you’re enjoying yourself, and they’re enjoying themselves, and you’re contributing to their enjoyment. You then make a connection and you find out more about each other, and you learn about them and you connect with them.

So, that’s an easy, quick three-step process to getting into flow in those situations. Now, just as a quick prime run. Flow state, in case you don’t know, you can get more on it just googling it, ‘flow state’ or ‘Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’. I’m not going to try to spell it right now, but you’ll be able to spot that name if you see it on the internet. But if you can just google ‘flow’, there’s quite a lot of research on flow.

And generally, there are three major characteristics of flow. A flow state can only be achieved when you’re performing an activity. So, it’s an activity basis. So, socializing is an activity for instance, but you’re performing an activity that you have the resources and the skills to meet the challenge of the activity. And the activity is challenging enough that it engages most of your conscious processing. So, you have to be fully immersed in it to do it well. So, it’s got to be sufficiently challenging.

So, if you’re talking to somebody who’s just not stimulating, then you’re just not going to get into flow because it’s not challenging enough, which is the bane of intelligent people, unfortunately.

And then the third is, you’re getting immediate feedback from your environment or from the person you’re interacting with on whether you’re doing well. So, you need immediate feedback on your performance. And then it’s also marked, finally, by tracking time. So, you lose track of time in other words. And that’s what you’re trying to aim for. And when you’re in that state, when you’ve lost track of time because you’re enjoying yourself so much, because you’re so fully immersed in the challenge and you have the skills to meet the challenge, it’s going to be enjoyable to you.

And socializing can definitely be one of those activities that can easily pop you into a flow state on a consistent basis. As long as you focus not on trying to impress the other person, or what to say next, or any of those things, but instead focus on enjoying yourself. “How can I have fun here?” So in bars and clubs, a big part of that is the music. It’s the beverages that you’re having. Hopefully, they taste good and you enjoy just sitting at the bar and enjoying the beverage and the environment, the ambiance, the atmosphere, the music they’re playing, good treatment, customer service at the place.

And all of those things will contribute to you having a good time, and focusing first and foremost on having a good time. And then when you’ve got a genuine smile on your face, then turning and talking to people. Instead of talking to people and getting needy on them to try to get them to get you into a good mood, or requiring women to like you for you to get into a good mood, that’s just disaster. That’s just going to spell neediness and repel people.

So first and foremost, when you’re in a social setting, focus on enjoying yourself, having fun and everything else will start to take care of itself. Okay, so that’s a quickie tip. But ultimately, it’s about addressing your deeper insecurities. I talk about this in some of the free courses. I also talk about how to talk to anyone, how to make friends anywhere. This is all included in the free courses in the Man Up group. So, join the Man Up Facebook group. Tap the pinned post and you’ll get all these free courses.

So, go ahead and join that. I’ll see you inside the Man Up Facebook group. It’s a private group, and we are approve requests daily. So, I’ll see you inside the group. Until then, Man Up!