Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Psychology
  • Rating: 4.11
  • Pages: 303
  • Publish Date: January 1st 1990 by Harper Perennial
  • Isbn10: 0060920432
  • Isbn13: 9780060920432

What People Think about "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience"

sense of control over actions 7. concern for self disappears (paradoxically awareness of self is heightened immediately after flow) 8. challenge: parents provide appropriate challenges for their children Quadrants of flow: Goal: High challenge, high skill Low challenge, high skill = boredom Low skill, high challenge = anxiety Roger Callois: Four kinds of play 1. samadhi: self-collectedness The goal of loss of self is opposite of flow, but the first 7 steps yield greater self-control similar to flow. These 7 steps can be applied in various contexts, with other ultimate goals. Applying scientific reasoning, mathematical thinking, is viewed as a pleasurable game by experts in the field. Maybe for fortunate people like me who love my work, but certainly not for everyone. Learning to enjoy immediate experience How does someone stay relaxed under extreme pressure?

If you are unhappy, anxious, or generally dissatisfied with the direction of your life, follow this pattern: (1) read the book's scientific assessment of happiness (or at least my summary below), (2) determine what element of "flow" is missing in your life, and (3) fix it! I feel enlightened with a unique self-understanding, convinced of the possibility of attaining happiness, and determined to eventually experience constant "flow." If you don't have the time and energy the book requires, read my gross oversimplification of Mr. C's genius below: WHAT IS HAPPINESS? A human being experiences happiness to the extent that he can mentally order his consciousness and fight off chaos (what Mr. C refers to as "psychic entropy"). This explains why animals (and people who fight daily for their own basic survival) experience almost constant flow. Mr. C refers to the process of losing yourself and experiencing Buddha-like enlightenment/self-actualization as a state of flow. Mr. C collected data from various cultures, professions, socio-economic conditions and stages of life, then discovered certain conditions present during flow, including: (1)engagement in an activity that is both challenging and attainable (if the activity is too easy, were bored; if its too difficult, were anxious) (2)the ability to keep concentration focused on the activity (so THATS the problem I had as a stay-at-home-mom :) (3)clearly defined goals that are within the individuals control ("winning the Pulitzer Prize" is not a self-contained goal, for example, because you personally do not choose who wins the Pulitzer) (4)immediate feedback (our psychic energy tends to atrophy without some verification were on the right track) (5)deep, effortless involvement in the activity-which removes from awareness the worries/frustrations of everyday life (during flow, you get lost in what you are doing because so much of your psychic energy is engaged) (6)sense of control over your own actions (more of that fighting-against-chaos definition of happiness) (7)non-self-conscious individualism (paradoxically, you lose yourself in what you are doing and eliminate all self-criticism, yet when the process is complete you are actually a more complex individual. We can experience flow in our home, work, personal relationships, daily activities, everything! When situations challenge our happiness, we address the problem in a healthy, proactive way and again free up our psychic energy to work toward our life goals. FAVORITE QUOTES: There are literally thousands of self-help books: in print explaining how to get rich, powerful, loved, or slim Yet even if their advice were to work, what would be the result afterward in the unlikely event that one did turn into a slim, well-loved, powerful millionaire?

"While humankind collectively has increased its material powers a thousandfold, it has not advanced very far in terms of improving the content of experience."- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow I found this book very intriguing.

How must you live your life? When I was a small boy I would often be missing my father for two straight days only to find out that he had been playing mahjong with friends nonstop for 48 or so hours, not getting tired, or sleepy or even hungry (despite the lack of proper meals). The game is played by a group of four, and when my mother would send me to check my father out from wherever part of the neighbourhood theyve set up their mahjong table to play, Id see them still going at it seemingly still with full energy and attention, as if they have just begun their sessions. It is by being fully involved with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by trying to look for it directly.

On the pursuit of ways and tools to optimize it, I stumbled on this marvelous book flow: the psychology of optimal experience , and autotelic personality. When it comes to flow, the ultimate goal is to cultivate a personality which makes you capable of entering the flow whenever you desire. Broadly speaking, as an autotelic person, you can invoke the flow as an antidote to any circumstances that might be plagued by boredom or anxiety. To cultivate an autotelic personality, you have to first, know what flow is, and what are the comprising elements. If you are trying to play the Piano, you know that the goal is to master a specific note. For instance, if as an amateur, you choose to play a complex Piano note, instead of entering the flow, you will be repelled by anxiety and frustration. The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times The best moments usually occur if a persons body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.You can visit my blog to learn how to use flow as an antidote to anxiety and bordom.

For that reason I felt like I got the idea of "flow" long before I even cracked C's book. One problem with this approach is that it makes "Flow" come off sounding much more fluffy and self-helpy than I expect it really is. Another problem with this approach is that today's readers have come to expect a certain amount of academic rigor in their pop-psychology and sociology books.

I can't be the first person to posit this as the reason why he became so interested in how people overcome mental chaos (psychic entropy as it is called in the book) to achieve harmony and, I almost typed satisfaction but that would be missing the point. He focuses one section on life's meaning. Now, if your life has been infused with meaning by or through religion, you might not find this section as compelling as the others. Me, I've struggled to see the meaning of life. And when they were younger I could get away with things like, "The meaning of life is it is time for your nap." Or, "The meaning of life is pick up your sh!t.

He is noted for both his work in the study of happiness and creativity and also for his notoriously difficult name, in terms of pronunciation for non-native speakers of the Hungarian language, but is best known as the architect of the notion of flow and for his years of research and writing on the topic.