By Guest Blogger, John Leever

It was around 10PM and my goddaughter says to my godson, “Bob I’m hungry. You must be starving.” There were 5 of us in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom at the end of Main Street about to head towards Adventureland. It was me, my goddaughter, my godson, and my two nieces. We had eaten probably around 2PM and now the kids wanted to eat again. Later I told my sister jokingly, “It is like they want to eat every 8 hours.”

So what happened? Am I a terrible godfather and uncle? Do I just like to starve kids? Or was I too cheap to spend money for food for children? Nope, it is none of these. I am not a psychologist but I have been listening to 2 different audio books on happiness, “The Happiness Advantage” and “How of Happiness”. I have listened to both books multiple times and they talk about the state of “Flow”. It is what Positive Psychologists call that state of mind, where you are fully engaged and energized by what you are doing. In our time at the Magic Kingdom, we were unaware of our own physical needs. We were going from attraction to attraction laughing, excited, and having a great time. There were no hunger pains; there were no feelings of dehydration; no feeling of being worn out. We were active physically and mentally.

The wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon is a particular favorite thing to do for me. The big waves were coming every 90 seconds. There were seven of us in the pool, along with a host of guests. We were standing in the four foot to five water level (most of us are not known for our height) in the center area. You get hit by this first wave and it carries you back. Then we would make our way back to where we were and wait for the next wave. Then we started getting creative. We decide to turn our back to the next wave, not looking at it, waiting for it to come. You hear the whoosh of the wave machine, then you hear the screams of the other swimmers and you know the wave is coming… but you don’t look. After that wave, we decide to try and stay in our spot to not let the massive wave move us (it does move us but a lot less). We try different things with each wave turning the wave pool into a game. The life guards do not let you put people on your shoulders in the wave pool. But what we would do is to line up three of us in a row. The middle person puts their hands on the shoulders of the people on each side. The people on the sides cup their hands for the middle person to put their feet into. When the whoosh happens, the two side people lift the middle person into air and if the timing is right, launches that person into the top of the wave. We achieve our state of flow by constantly changing what we are doing with each wave; making the experience fresh and new each time. Different people get lifted up, we face the wave and watch it hit us, we turn our backs, we jump up, we ride the wave. During the in-between time, we discuss what happened and then decide what to do next. It is fun, it is happiness, it is flow.

My third example of Disney flow happened at Epcot. I was there with my godson. It was just the two of us on this trip. It was April, the time of the Flower Garden Festival. It was our first day and we decided to go to Epcot after checking in at the Caribbean Beach. We got to the park and we were greeted by the first Flower Garden exhibit right past the entrance. There were amazing topiaries. My nephew and I take several pictures. He then tells me to wait and he goes to get the special Flower Garden Festival Map. He tells me he wants to do each entry on the map in order as they are numbered. I was on board with his plan instantly because the Flower Garden Festival was the reason I had scheduled the trip. For the next couple of hours we followed the map, going to each topiary, to the herb garden, to the floating flowers, through each country to see the new magic that the Disney had for us. It was a fun time for the two of us as we were focused on following a map taking pictures and enjoying the new experience for us. There was a Lion King Topiary, the pixie hollow with Tinker Bell and her friends, there was the butterfly garden, Belle and the Beast, Aurora and Prince Phillip.

My last example of flow happened again in the Magic Kingdom (which happens to be my favorite park which may be why I achieve flow there so easily). There were five of us; my godson Bob; my goddaughter Carol; her brother Paul; and Paul’s friend Tim. It was a late night in December on our last night of the trip. We had been going all day but we were not done yet. It was during a time before Fast Passes, and the five of us were “doing the mountains” as we called it. It had rained earlier but had stopped. We raced to Splash Mountain and were practically able to walk right on. The plan was to get off and race over to Big Thunder Mountain as quickly as we could. We hopped out of the log and started to run. Here is where the story gets a little blurry. I fell down. My legs slid out from under me and I tried to brace myself with my arm. My face hit the pavement. Where I was when I fell is still up for debate between the five us on that trip. But what happened next is not. I bounced back up and took off running. The kids were surprised but I urged them on to Big Thunder showing them I was fine by moving arm in a circle. We rode Big Thunder and then took off back toward Splash Mountain hoping to make it back in line before the closing hour because if we were in line before it closed, no matter how long the line, we would get to ride again. We were seconds too late. As we started the long walk through the park from Frontierland to Main Street, my arm ended up in an “L” shape bent at the elbow. On the walk back to the Contemporary, where we were staying, I started to experience pain spasms in my arm. An x-ray at Sand Lake Hospital revealed that I had fracture in my elbow.

The only thing I can attribute my ability to continue to go on rides at the Magic Kingdom with a fracture in my elbow, is a state of flow. My mind was focused on the fun and happiness we were having. My brain was engaged so fully on riding rides and experiencing the Magic Kingdom with friends and family that I did not notice that I had a problem with my elbow.

There are times when you get into a state of flow; could be when you’re playing a sport, when you are working out, when you are cooking, doing a hobby, etc. But I love my Flow at Disney because Disney has become so special to my family and extended family and they are some of our greatest memories.
I would love to hear times of your own times you have achieved Disney Flow.

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