Flow state, and what it has to do with Bruce Lees famous water quote

TL:DR (To Long Didn’t Read)

Water, we are, the flow state, we must become! (in voice of Yoda)

We can freeze, boil or simmer at just the right temperature.

Each of these states can and does affect our mental & physical health differently.

We each have a slightly different optimal Flow State where we feel happiest, enjoy life the most and importantly perform the best we can.

We also have differing and complex dependency trees, all getting upset differently when we aren’t able to stay in our optimal flow state.


This post follows off of this LinkedIn Post by Steven Bartlet in which he shared a clip from Johann Hari in which he was discussing Flow State.

Flow State is a psychology term used in many cases focused on any form of what we often deem to be a highly productive individual. However at it’s core is describing when one’s inner balance is at it’s most optimal as this is when they can perform whatever task it is to the best of their current abilities, whilst also giving them the opportunity to positively grow, at a pace that really does work best for them.

The Quote

Bruce Lee, one of my all time inspirational favourites, once said,

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

Extending the Quote

We must however take that advice and extend it further for us to really understand just how impactful a statement like that is & how it equates to so called flow state.

We must remember that water is almost never static. In fact it would be impossible for it to be close to static (or more scientific, a solid with very little kinetic energy) even when it gets frozen (0°C/32°F/273.15°K). To understand a little more you should have a quick brush up on the Four Fundamental States of Matter.

It can, like us, become a frozen like state, much like how water will become ice when too cold, or for us that is when too many negative stresses in our lives hit us all at once, like as short/long term problems with mental & physical health, work, housing & keeping up on our chores, when our finances take a hit - perhaps due to finding ourselves out of work through our health or others, being, when we aren’t able to get adequate nourishment, when important relationships in our lives are strained,

It can be a comfortable range, not to cold and not too hot. When it is in this state is when we find it most useful as we cook and clean with it. When we are in this state, we enjoy life and most often are our happiest and most productive selves, in all aspects of live. This is especially true when life full of positive challenges and ALL our needs that cause negative stresses (which can lead to us towards freezing up) have been countered. These include things such as short/long term problems with Mental & Physical Health, Housing, Finances, adequate Nourishment, positively challenging Relationships, just to name a few.

It also can be in an uncomfortable and highly charged, if not explosive state, whether boiling or beyond boiling. This I equate to when we’ve been over pressurised, perhaps by workload, personal circumstances including health, family events, financial worries, housing issues, or perhaps just by someone pushing those buttons time and time again.

We both fortunately and unfortunately are exactly like water in that we can change state easily with some outside influences. Sometimes we can be really good at reducing any negative impact from those influences however there are also far too many time where also however seem very bad at not aptly and quickly enough reducing those pressures. This unfortunately eventually can and will lead to either partial burnout (article to come) or a full burnout (article to come), both of take time to recover from, and have lasting impacts on not only us, but those that rely on us too. Both of these could be better avoided by implementing a combination of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) system, a 4 day working week (enabled by UBI), by businesses employing more people to correctly cover the workloads (also helped by UBI), and allow for more holiday periods (helped by increased headcounts and UBI) to allow us all just a bit more opportunity to rest, recharge, reset & re-initialise, themselves.

We are also like water in that we have many things, including the bacteria within us, all 39 trillion of them, that are dependent of us, and that when we aren’t in the flow state, we break down the bonds with a significant number of those dependent on us, causing them unnecessary pressures and upset down that dependency tree/graph.

Huh, Dependency Tree/Graph??

When was the last time you took a step back and counted or listed absolutely everything that is dependent on you?

Probably never, I am guessing.

Well this is what is known as either a Dependency Tree, or more commonly a Dependency Graph.

Either of those terms can be used, somewhat interchangeably, because at their core, you are the epicentre of some if not all of those downstream dependencies.

I will at some point in the very near future update this article with what I think is good example images of both a dependency tree and dependency graph for this article as for this I am going to write some code to do this.

Wrapping Up

We are so much alike to water, we need the right conditions for our life to not only be as most optimally sustainable, but for any other downstream dependent lives to also be optimally sustainable too.

You may feel like you are only a small part of this universe that we are in, but you are an Important part of other peoples worlds, and don’t you ever forget that, because they will miss you when you are gone.