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Editor’s Note

“Creativity Unleashed...”

The seminal psychological work on creativity unleashed, this book investigates & illuminates the satisfying power of total immersion in work.
Scribd Editor

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience" have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. 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.

Topics: Creativity, Art & Artists, Goals & Aspirations, Cognitive Science, Zen, Mindfulness, Productivity, Happiness, Success, Hungarian Author, Contemplative, and Philosophical

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061876721
List price: $10.99
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Very interesting book. I admit I was skeptical earlier with some pseudo-scientific terminology, but I become more convinced the more I read. Discusses the nature of happiness, by becoming totally focused in an action/thought, and a less of self-consciousness. Very interesting indeed.more
Flow is essentially a how-to book on improving your quality of life and becoming happier. Csikszentmihalyi states that the number one way to create happiness in one's life is to experience flow, which he describes as the sensation one gets when they're so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. In the long run, the more you experience flow, the more your overall quality of life will increase. After establishing this theory, Csikszentmihalyi basically just uses the rest of the book to describe real world examples of people whose lives have improved because of his theory. Although I agree with most of what Csikszentmihalyi says in the book, I didn't really love it. To me, his philosophy seems rather simple: spend time doing things you love and you'll be happier. Everyone knows this, so the fact that he tried to give it a name and sell it as a new revolutionary concept just seemed cheap.more
There a lot of internal contradictions in this book that annoyed me. I wrote a lot of marginal comments. C. talks mostly about flow in extraordinary situations and seems to derive his description of it from the extraordinary. Then he suggests we cultivate the same level of challenge and intense concentration in everything we do. He once cited dishwashing as an example. He calls flow an optimal experience but found that sometimes when people are technically (by his definition) in flow at work that they would rather be doing something else. In other words, flow is not providing them with the enjoyment it's supposed to. Does C. examine this to see if there is some element he is leaving out of the equation? Only to essentially blame it on the people reporting, saying that they simply have an overriding negative association with work. He denigrates mere pleasure (which is less intense) and can't understand why maybe people need periods of flowless rest.While I applaud C. for looking into positive experiences as a subject of study, I certainly don't think he has discovered enough to live up to the NY Times Book Review's comment on the cover: "illuminates the way to happiness."more
"Flow," as the author of this book defines it, is what happens when we experience the right kind of challenge in the right frame of mind so that our whole being focuses on what we're doing, and worry, distraction, self-consciousness, even our perception of time all disappear. He believes that it is this flow state that constitutes real and substantial happiness, the "optimal experience" of the subtitle.This "flow" experience is a familiar one to me, but also mysterious and fascinating and very much worth investigating. But while most of what the author has to say about it here seems sensible enough, I think this is a rather flawed exploration of the subject. For one thing, he sometimes seems to define the concept of "flow" so broadly that its meaning becomes blurred. For another, I'm highly dubious about the idea of anything, however broadly defined, being presented as the one and only key to happiness. But the biggest problem, I think, is that the book doesn't really seem to know whether it wants to be a scientifically-based explanation of a particular aspect of psychology, or a philosophical consideration of what it is to live a meaningful life, or a sort of self-help volume meant to encourage readers to live more satisfying lives of their own. As a result, it's not terribly successful at being any of them, and far too much of it is taken up by somewhat repetitious examples of various areas in which people can find fulfilling challenges. I have a few other quibbles with it, as well, including a dislike for some of the terminology he uses, but those are comparatively minor.So, kind of a disappointing read. And yet, it was still a fairly thought-provoking one, as I frequently found myself, especially in the earlier parts of the book, wanting to argue certain points, or coming up with my own examples of things, or pondering how our relationship to "flow" has changed in the 22 years since this book was published. (For instance, what does it mean that we're increasingly living in a world where not only are interruptions and intrusions increasingly unavoidable, but where failing to concentrate completely on any one thing (aka "multitasking") is regarded as a sort of virtue?) That's a good thing, at least, but it just makes me think that this could have been a lot better than it was.more
Wow. Imagine that. The psychology of optimal experience. What a revelation this book was to me when I first read it way back in 1990. Imagine looking at what makes people happy and engaged rather than sad and depressed. I’ve always wanted to reread it and now I have. It was just as engaging and powerful this time as it was twenty years ago. I feel happy just thinking about times I’ve been in that experience of flow, when I was engaged in a task that I had the ability to solve but that required the devotion of my entire self to accomplish the job. A must-read for anyone interested in happiness.more
I’m not big on these types of books but read this one as it was given to me by a friend who had found inspiration within its pages; it essentially explains how taking control of one’s life, both through controlling how one interprets the somewhat random events life may throw our way, as well as actively taking on challenges, is the key to happiness.Just this quote:“But when we are left alone, with no demands on attention, the basic disorder of the mind reveals itself. With nothing to do, it begins to follow random patterns, usually stopping to consider something painful or disturbing. Unless a person knows how to give order to his or her thoughts, attention will be attracted to whatever is most problematic at the moment: it will focus on some real or imaginary pain, on recent grudges or long-term frustrations. Entropy is the normal state of consciousness – a condition that is neither useful nor enjoyable.”more
Flow was one of those books that kept being recommended to me, but I just never got around to reading. Now that I have, it's pretty easy to see why it's been brought up so many times. It's a very well written look at the factors involved in creating the "flow" effect, and the implications are widespread.Mihaly manages to write articulately and engagingly (for the most part - the latter parts of the book didn't hold my attention quite as strongly) about this topic - and he explores it in depth. While the phrase "optimal experience" may give the impression that this is another "self-help" book, it's a far deeper and more scientific exploration of the topic than books of that variety tend to be.more
A textbook for Introduction to Liberal Studies. A study oh how we use time and what constitutes a pleasureable experience.more
Much of this book may have been condensed into a short 3-page paper and the readers given back their valuable time. The books agenda is to deconstruct the pursuit of human happiness and what makes one happy. While the author maintains a rational and scientific tone throughout, none of the said scientific methods are explained satisfactorily or convincingly. Random polling of a population of subjects multiple times a day, with questions relating to happiness, while laudable, hardly seems the basis of forming a thesis and recipe for as fundamental a subject as human happiness is. With only haphazardly explained descriptions of 'methods', the author quickly forms his thesis that in order to be happy, one must carefully take on increasingly challenging goals, moving up an ever-ascending ladder of skill levels, obtaining clear feedback along the way, and enhancing ones attention levels and focus on the task, away from one's self. This in a nut-shell is what the book is about. Hardly anything new. What he has done is - condensed (from eastern thought, that are essentially much broader and more comprehensive frameworks around attaining happiness, reducing suffering and 'proper' living)- relabeled (his condensed gist, into what is calls 'Flow' in this book)-retrofitted (this reduced concept of Flow into a variety of activities that appeal a western lifestyle, jettisoning the said comprehensive frameworks that have existed for thousands of years in Zen, Buddhist, Yoga, Bhagwad Gita)Is the book helpful? Sure. Is it worth devoting 250 some pages? No. The author on many occasions appears to boil the ocean and seems to want to solve the world's problems with his 'Flow' approach, one that is hardly new or adds new insights, and one that certainly may not fit as well across cultures or socio-economic backgrounds. To the work's credit, when seen as an interpretation of ancient wisdom, the book is a helpful one. It does successfully introduce the audience to the gist of eastern thought. Just think many chapters seemed to endlessly ramble around the same basic ideas over and over. May help readers to also try reading Patanjali's Yoga Sutras to complement this book, compare and draw your own conclusions.more
It's not a self help book. But it is a very humane science book that takes concepts and discoveries and relates it back to what it is we care about the most: our own happiness. It seems like a rather ambitious goal for a scientist to tackle (I would think philosophy or religion would have been an easier angle) but this book is surprisingly interesting and insightful. It doesn't give you step by step instructions on improving your life, but if you understand the concepts behind what makes us happy, then there's nothing stopping you from increasing the likelihood of finding it yourself. Except, of course, that carrying out these ideas in your life may be harder than it sounds, but isn't that the way it's supposed to be?The only chapters I didn't care too much about were the ones on The Body and The Mind... which basically just lists examples of achieving flow using the body and the mind. I kind of skimmed it.I'll write a short summary of what I learned. This is mostly for my memory, you should read the actual book because he really brings these concepts to life. Just reading this will probably not do anything for you unless you've read the book:- happiness results not from consuming pleasure but through investing the self in activities that create a fuller picture of the self -- and stimulate growth- often these activities require full attention: state of flow- enjoyment is subjective and while still at the mercy of extrinsic factors, can be controlled by the mind- activities create flow when one is between the states of boredom (task is too easy) and anxiety (task is too hard)- enjoyment is achieved when the purpose of the task is to enjoy the task itself, instead of other motives like money, fame, recognition, or results- ability to focus attention is single most important skill in achieving flow- therefore, those who are selfish and those who are self conscious (2 extremes of the spectrum) have a harder time achieving flow (the ego gets in the way of attention)- many people are able to achieve flow in their lives by constantly introducing new challenges to the task with a head to master the situation (and the self)- when one is able (and has the skills) to control the self and the situation, it gives pleasure & self understanding- (work hard, play hard?)- many people achieve flow at work (& thus enjoyment) more than at home & leisure. This is b/c work provides clear goals & structure and feedback, which is ideal situation of flow- we need to learn how to structure our free time w/ rewarding activity rather than passive entertainment- choice is very important - choose what matters to you in order to create flow (because it is a subjective experience)- as with most things, flow can be used for good or evil i.e. most criminals experience flow when committing crimes- also certain flow activities can become an addiction i.e. video games- purpose, resolution, and harmony unify life and give it meaning by transforming it into a seamless flow experience- autotelic personality - people who have this personality naturally approach problems and crisis as a challenge... and an opportunity to meet the challenge (rather than the other reactions: cynicism or helplessness). these people make every situation into an opportunity for creating flow.- some people who go through huge tragedies like losing a limb say that it has changed their lives for the better. Before, they did not have as much purpose, concrete goals, constant feedback, and difficult challenges (all ingredients for creating flow).- for life to have meaning requires more than a string of random, perhaps contradictory flow activities. one must find an overarching purpose so that all other flow activities will contribute to it.- "the meaning of life is meaning: whatever it is, wherever it comes from, a unified purpose is what gives meaning to life"- modern man has so many options to choose from that it makes finding one unified purpose very hard, whereas past generations had less choices, so they were more easily satisfied with whatever they chose to work hardest at. We can master this by having self knowledge.more
Excellent study of psychology, happiness, and successful enjoyment of life.Together with Leonard's "Mastery" this is an excellent guide to enjoying existence.A practical and easily applied method which is easily customizable to any lifestyle or desires.more
Worth reading as a refresher. I like that its Short, however there is nothing that new(others have copied it) It is what has been said many times, do whatever it is you do well and that in itself is the reward.more
Psychology books are not very frequent among my reading lists, but this work found it's way into my hands after having read it's sequel. I found the topic to be interesting, but not always the writing which presented it. The effort of being mindful in everyday situations has made a big impact on the amount of joy I experience in daily life. Unfortunately, I would not claim it as an incredible breakthrough, nor as a result of this book.I think there are some good ideas to be gleaned from this discussion of flow, however it strays too far toward humanistic ends. I suppose that is to be expected from a self-help/psychology book of this nature.more
A friend who reads as much as I do was visiting last week. After an evening of drinking beer and catching up, I started to complain about being "off the path." "I've got two books you have to read," he said. "Flow and The Alchemist." He was right. I needed to read those two books.Flow describes exactly what I feel missing from my life for the past year, and what I definitely felt for the previous 15. When work is not work because you are so involved in it that time passes without being aware of it. I liked the notion of controlling our consciousness and deciding what to do with sensory input. I've been in one of those negative spaces where I think the dishes stacked up on the counter and the sink are a conspiracy by my family to ruin my life. I decided change my attitude a couple of weeks ago, and to keep the kitchen clean just because I like it that way. Whenever I pass though, I pick up anything on the counter and put it away, load the dishwasher, etc. I don't think I am spending any more time doing anything, but the counters are clean, I am happy, and I even think some of it is starting to rub off on the rest of the family. But even if it isn't, this is the road to true bliss. I think I am finding my way back to the path.more
This is a two-hour discussion by the author on "flow", as discussed in his book. It is produced by Nightingale-Conant, and is very much in the "self-help" genre. The author discusses the behavioral steps necessary to attain "flow" and states how acquiring these "habits" will enhance one's inner life. The reverse may be closer to the truth: those who have the inner state of "flow" exhibit the traits the author discusses. It is not certain that the inner state is achieved by developing these traits. "Flow" is more than a "self-help" instruction!more
Unique theory of chaos, control of the mind, enjoyment, finite capacity of the mind, alienation of teenagers, and more. I wish I'd read this 15 years ago.more
I find this book somewhat straggly. Ostensibly, this book is about the "flow"-feeling, but his definition of flow gradually becomes so wide as to be almost indistinguishable from general happiness (could the situation of a mother reading stories to her child be thought of in terms of an adequate challenge for her mothering skill? Or is there another form of satisfaction involved? When some ordinary people gather for a Friday evening dinner, are they using their social skills to engage in challenges of socialising? Is his diagram from the beginning of chapter 4 applicable to that situation?). The book becomes a general self-help book with advice on everything from parenting to how to handle stress and catastrophic life changes.In chapter 8, he describes ordinary people playing cards, throwing darts and playing checkers as a waste of time, yet those activities might well be flow-creating. He seems somewhat condescending - normal people don't experience flow because they're lazy. Friendships between ordinary people are not as good as the friendships he describes.I also dislike the way he organized the references (though I do like the full and thorough comments in the reference list - not just an austere list of works). There are no inline citations. If you're interested in a certain paragraph, you'll have to turn to the reference list at the end of the book and just hope that he wrote something about that section.I've also read "Finding Flow", by the same author, and the two works are largely overlapping. If you haven't read either of them, I suggest you read that book instead of this one, as that book is somewhat more to-the-point.more
I'm not yet finished reading this book, so my feelings regarding it are as yet incomplete. I have to say I'm a little disappointed so far; I think that disappointment stems from my expectations that the book would have a little more "meat" to it. I realize now that this isn't a fair assessment, since this is not meant to be a strictly academic work (but rather a popular distillation of decades of work on the topic of optimal experience).Simply put, according to Csikszentmihalyi "flow" is the state in which one's skills are matched well with the challenges one is meant to face when armed with those skills, and both skills and challenges are high. If one's skills are inadequate to meet the challenges one is met with, one will tend to feel anxious, overwhelmed, terrified. If one's skills overmaster one's challenges, one will instead feel bored and stultified. If skills and challenges match but are of a low order, one may feel eager to raise the stakes and proceed to a higher "flow" state. Csikszentmihalyi's thesis is that in order to perform this increase in stakes, one must become adept at focusing one's attention consciously in rule-bound, goal-oriented activities that require a high degree of skill and result in a "complexification" of the individual self as one gains greater, more well-refined skills.Read for what it is, the book is solid and provides good insight into the ways in which one can train oneself to get more out of life. Moreover, the book has already given me a number of pointers to more specific (and more academic) references I may be able to use to hone my pedagogy. For instance, the references on pp. 88-89 to Kevin Rathunde's work with optimal experience in the context of the family should lead to concrete measures for constructing a classroom environment conducive to "flow" experiences. I'll check back in once I've finished this book, and once we've had discussions on it in the faculty learning circle of which I'm a part this summer.more
Csikszentmihalyi explains, better than anyone else has done to date, what factors contribute to meaning and enjoyment in life. His findings are based on solid research and show that all situations provide opportunities for individuals to cultivate flow for themselves. These autotelic people do so by having goals, discovering purpose, engaging in relevant pursuits, keeping challenge in their life, and being fully involved in the resulting experiences. Pity the soul who never discovers their own source and experience of flow.more
Incredible ideas about happiness, productivity and the way people work and motivate themselves. I recommend this book to everyone. And I will read it again and again.more
This book saved my life, I forgot it, I reread it, and it saved my life again more
a bit glibmore
The idea of flow is simple enough and how to achieve it seems pretty straight forward as well. However there are a lot of factors involved in order to make it happen. For me personally a flow state happens when I'm engaged in an activity of my choosing where the motivation is intrinsic. Not all activities to me provide this opportunity but of course every one is different.
In the past I have tried to make games out of boring day jobs in order to make the time pass faster. Sometimes it works others not so much. I can get bored easily and that is only if the activity I'm participating in is boring or is giving me no type of feedback. Who doesn't experience this??
An interesting read for anyone interested in how to enjoy themselves in any type of situation, whether they want to be there or not.more
this is a book. I would live to read. Advice for a lifetimemore
Read all 29 reviews

Reviews

Very interesting book. I admit I was skeptical earlier with some pseudo-scientific terminology, but I become more convinced the more I read. Discusses the nature of happiness, by becoming totally focused in an action/thought, and a less of self-consciousness. Very interesting indeed.more
Flow is essentially a how-to book on improving your quality of life and becoming happier. Csikszentmihalyi states that the number one way to create happiness in one's life is to experience flow, which he describes as the sensation one gets when they're so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. In the long run, the more you experience flow, the more your overall quality of life will increase. After establishing this theory, Csikszentmihalyi basically just uses the rest of the book to describe real world examples of people whose lives have improved because of his theory. Although I agree with most of what Csikszentmihalyi says in the book, I didn't really love it. To me, his philosophy seems rather simple: spend time doing things you love and you'll be happier. Everyone knows this, so the fact that he tried to give it a name and sell it as a new revolutionary concept just seemed cheap.more
There a lot of internal contradictions in this book that annoyed me. I wrote a lot of marginal comments. C. talks mostly about flow in extraordinary situations and seems to derive his description of it from the extraordinary. Then he suggests we cultivate the same level of challenge and intense concentration in everything we do. He once cited dishwashing as an example. He calls flow an optimal experience but found that sometimes when people are technically (by his definition) in flow at work that they would rather be doing something else. In other words, flow is not providing them with the enjoyment it's supposed to. Does C. examine this to see if there is some element he is leaving out of the equation? Only to essentially blame it on the people reporting, saying that they simply have an overriding negative association with work. He denigrates mere pleasure (which is less intense) and can't understand why maybe people need periods of flowless rest.While I applaud C. for looking into positive experiences as a subject of study, I certainly don't think he has discovered enough to live up to the NY Times Book Review's comment on the cover: "illuminates the way to happiness."more
"Flow," as the author of this book defines it, is what happens when we experience the right kind of challenge in the right frame of mind so that our whole being focuses on what we're doing, and worry, distraction, self-consciousness, even our perception of time all disappear. He believes that it is this flow state that constitutes real and substantial happiness, the "optimal experience" of the subtitle.This "flow" experience is a familiar one to me, but also mysterious and fascinating and very much worth investigating. But while most of what the author has to say about it here seems sensible enough, I think this is a rather flawed exploration of the subject. For one thing, he sometimes seems to define the concept of "flow" so broadly that its meaning becomes blurred. For another, I'm highly dubious about the idea of anything, however broadly defined, being presented as the one and only key to happiness. But the biggest problem, I think, is that the book doesn't really seem to know whether it wants to be a scientifically-based explanation of a particular aspect of psychology, or a philosophical consideration of what it is to live a meaningful life, or a sort of self-help volume meant to encourage readers to live more satisfying lives of their own. As a result, it's not terribly successful at being any of them, and far too much of it is taken up by somewhat repetitious examples of various areas in which people can find fulfilling challenges. I have a few other quibbles with it, as well, including a dislike for some of the terminology he uses, but those are comparatively minor.So, kind of a disappointing read. And yet, it was still a fairly thought-provoking one, as I frequently found myself, especially in the earlier parts of the book, wanting to argue certain points, or coming up with my own examples of things, or pondering how our relationship to "flow" has changed in the 22 years since this book was published. (For instance, what does it mean that we're increasingly living in a world where not only are interruptions and intrusions increasingly unavoidable, but where failing to concentrate completely on any one thing (aka "multitasking") is regarded as a sort of virtue?) That's a good thing, at least, but it just makes me think that this could have been a lot better than it was.more
Wow. Imagine that. The psychology of optimal experience. What a revelation this book was to me when I first read it way back in 1990. Imagine looking at what makes people happy and engaged rather than sad and depressed. I’ve always wanted to reread it and now I have. It was just as engaging and powerful this time as it was twenty years ago. I feel happy just thinking about times I’ve been in that experience of flow, when I was engaged in a task that I had the ability to solve but that required the devotion of my entire self to accomplish the job. A must-read for anyone interested in happiness.more
I’m not big on these types of books but read this one as it was given to me by a friend who had found inspiration within its pages; it essentially explains how taking control of one’s life, both through controlling how one interprets the somewhat random events life may throw our way, as well as actively taking on challenges, is the key to happiness.Just this quote:“But when we are left alone, with no demands on attention, the basic disorder of the mind reveals itself. With nothing to do, it begins to follow random patterns, usually stopping to consider something painful or disturbing. Unless a person knows how to give order to his or her thoughts, attention will be attracted to whatever is most problematic at the moment: it will focus on some real or imaginary pain, on recent grudges or long-term frustrations. Entropy is the normal state of consciousness – a condition that is neither useful nor enjoyable.”more
Flow was one of those books that kept being recommended to me, but I just never got around to reading. Now that I have, it's pretty easy to see why it's been brought up so many times. It's a very well written look at the factors involved in creating the "flow" effect, and the implications are widespread.Mihaly manages to write articulately and engagingly (for the most part - the latter parts of the book didn't hold my attention quite as strongly) about this topic - and he explores it in depth. While the phrase "optimal experience" may give the impression that this is another "self-help" book, it's a far deeper and more scientific exploration of the topic than books of that variety tend to be.more
A textbook for Introduction to Liberal Studies. A study oh how we use time and what constitutes a pleasureable experience.more
Much of this book may have been condensed into a short 3-page paper and the readers given back their valuable time. The books agenda is to deconstruct the pursuit of human happiness and what makes one happy. While the author maintains a rational and scientific tone throughout, none of the said scientific methods are explained satisfactorily or convincingly. Random polling of a population of subjects multiple times a day, with questions relating to happiness, while laudable, hardly seems the basis of forming a thesis and recipe for as fundamental a subject as human happiness is. With only haphazardly explained descriptions of 'methods', the author quickly forms his thesis that in order to be happy, one must carefully take on increasingly challenging goals, moving up an ever-ascending ladder of skill levels, obtaining clear feedback along the way, and enhancing ones attention levels and focus on the task, away from one's self. This in a nut-shell is what the book is about. Hardly anything new. What he has done is - condensed (from eastern thought, that are essentially much broader and more comprehensive frameworks around attaining happiness, reducing suffering and 'proper' living)- relabeled (his condensed gist, into what is calls 'Flow' in this book)-retrofitted (this reduced concept of Flow into a variety of activities that appeal a western lifestyle, jettisoning the said comprehensive frameworks that have existed for thousands of years in Zen, Buddhist, Yoga, Bhagwad Gita)Is the book helpful? Sure. Is it worth devoting 250 some pages? No. The author on many occasions appears to boil the ocean and seems to want to solve the world's problems with his 'Flow' approach, one that is hardly new or adds new insights, and one that certainly may not fit as well across cultures or socio-economic backgrounds. To the work's credit, when seen as an interpretation of ancient wisdom, the book is a helpful one. It does successfully introduce the audience to the gist of eastern thought. Just think many chapters seemed to endlessly ramble around the same basic ideas over and over. May help readers to also try reading Patanjali's Yoga Sutras to complement this book, compare and draw your own conclusions.more
It's not a self help book. But it is a very humane science book that takes concepts and discoveries and relates it back to what it is we care about the most: our own happiness. It seems like a rather ambitious goal for a scientist to tackle (I would think philosophy or religion would have been an easier angle) but this book is surprisingly interesting and insightful. It doesn't give you step by step instructions on improving your life, but if you understand the concepts behind what makes us happy, then there's nothing stopping you from increasing the likelihood of finding it yourself. Except, of course, that carrying out these ideas in your life may be harder than it sounds, but isn't that the way it's supposed to be?The only chapters I didn't care too much about were the ones on The Body and The Mind... which basically just lists examples of achieving flow using the body and the mind. I kind of skimmed it.I'll write a short summary of what I learned. This is mostly for my memory, you should read the actual book because he really brings these concepts to life. Just reading this will probably not do anything for you unless you've read the book:- happiness results not from consuming pleasure but through investing the self in activities that create a fuller picture of the self -- and stimulate growth- often these activities require full attention: state of flow- enjoyment is subjective and while still at the mercy of extrinsic factors, can be controlled by the mind- activities create flow when one is between the states of boredom (task is too easy) and anxiety (task is too hard)- enjoyment is achieved when the purpose of the task is to enjoy the task itself, instead of other motives like money, fame, recognition, or results- ability to focus attention is single most important skill in achieving flow- therefore, those who are selfish and those who are self conscious (2 extremes of the spectrum) have a harder time achieving flow (the ego gets in the way of attention)- many people are able to achieve flow in their lives by constantly introducing new challenges to the task with a head to master the situation (and the self)- when one is able (and has the skills) to control the self and the situation, it gives pleasure & self understanding- (work hard, play hard?)- many people achieve flow at work (& thus enjoyment) more than at home & leisure. This is b/c work provides clear goals & structure and feedback, which is ideal situation of flow- we need to learn how to structure our free time w/ rewarding activity rather than passive entertainment- choice is very important - choose what matters to you in order to create flow (because it is a subjective experience)- as with most things, flow can be used for good or evil i.e. most criminals experience flow when committing crimes- also certain flow activities can become an addiction i.e. video games- purpose, resolution, and harmony unify life and give it meaning by transforming it into a seamless flow experience- autotelic personality - people who have this personality naturally approach problems and crisis as a challenge... and an opportunity to meet the challenge (rather than the other reactions: cynicism or helplessness). these people make every situation into an opportunity for creating flow.- some people who go through huge tragedies like losing a limb say that it has changed their lives for the better. Before, they did not have as much purpose, concrete goals, constant feedback, and difficult challenges (all ingredients for creating flow).- for life to have meaning requires more than a string of random, perhaps contradictory flow activities. one must find an overarching purpose so that all other flow activities will contribute to it.- "the meaning of life is meaning: whatever it is, wherever it comes from, a unified purpose is what gives meaning to life"- modern man has so many options to choose from that it makes finding one unified purpose very hard, whereas past generations had less choices, so they were more easily satisfied with whatever they chose to work hardest at. We can master this by having self knowledge.more
Excellent study of psychology, happiness, and successful enjoyment of life.Together with Leonard's "Mastery" this is an excellent guide to enjoying existence.A practical and easily applied method which is easily customizable to any lifestyle or desires.more
Worth reading as a refresher. I like that its Short, however there is nothing that new(others have copied it) It is what has been said many times, do whatever it is you do well and that in itself is the reward.more
Psychology books are not very frequent among my reading lists, but this work found it's way into my hands after having read it's sequel. I found the topic to be interesting, but not always the writing which presented it. The effort of being mindful in everyday situations has made a big impact on the amount of joy I experience in daily life. Unfortunately, I would not claim it as an incredible breakthrough, nor as a result of this book.I think there are some good ideas to be gleaned from this discussion of flow, however it strays too far toward humanistic ends. I suppose that is to be expected from a self-help/psychology book of this nature.more
A friend who reads as much as I do was visiting last week. After an evening of drinking beer and catching up, I started to complain about being "off the path." "I've got two books you have to read," he said. "Flow and The Alchemist." He was right. I needed to read those two books.Flow describes exactly what I feel missing from my life for the past year, and what I definitely felt for the previous 15. When work is not work because you are so involved in it that time passes without being aware of it. I liked the notion of controlling our consciousness and deciding what to do with sensory input. I've been in one of those negative spaces where I think the dishes stacked up on the counter and the sink are a conspiracy by my family to ruin my life. I decided change my attitude a couple of weeks ago, and to keep the kitchen clean just because I like it that way. Whenever I pass though, I pick up anything on the counter and put it away, load the dishwasher, etc. I don't think I am spending any more time doing anything, but the counters are clean, I am happy, and I even think some of it is starting to rub off on the rest of the family. But even if it isn't, this is the road to true bliss. I think I am finding my way back to the path.more
This is a two-hour discussion by the author on "flow", as discussed in his book. It is produced by Nightingale-Conant, and is very much in the "self-help" genre. The author discusses the behavioral steps necessary to attain "flow" and states how acquiring these "habits" will enhance one's inner life. The reverse may be closer to the truth: those who have the inner state of "flow" exhibit the traits the author discusses. It is not certain that the inner state is achieved by developing these traits. "Flow" is more than a "self-help" instruction!more
Unique theory of chaos, control of the mind, enjoyment, finite capacity of the mind, alienation of teenagers, and more. I wish I'd read this 15 years ago.more
I find this book somewhat straggly. Ostensibly, this book is about the "flow"-feeling, but his definition of flow gradually becomes so wide as to be almost indistinguishable from general happiness (could the situation of a mother reading stories to her child be thought of in terms of an adequate challenge for her mothering skill? Or is there another form of satisfaction involved? When some ordinary people gather for a Friday evening dinner, are they using their social skills to engage in challenges of socialising? Is his diagram from the beginning of chapter 4 applicable to that situation?). The book becomes a general self-help book with advice on everything from parenting to how to handle stress and catastrophic life changes.In chapter 8, he describes ordinary people playing cards, throwing darts and playing checkers as a waste of time, yet those activities might well be flow-creating. He seems somewhat condescending - normal people don't experience flow because they're lazy. Friendships between ordinary people are not as good as the friendships he describes.I also dislike the way he organized the references (though I do like the full and thorough comments in the reference list - not just an austere list of works). There are no inline citations. If you're interested in a certain paragraph, you'll have to turn to the reference list at the end of the book and just hope that he wrote something about that section.I've also read "Finding Flow", by the same author, and the two works are largely overlapping. If you haven't read either of them, I suggest you read that book instead of this one, as that book is somewhat more to-the-point.more
I'm not yet finished reading this book, so my feelings regarding it are as yet incomplete. I have to say I'm a little disappointed so far; I think that disappointment stems from my expectations that the book would have a little more "meat" to it. I realize now that this isn't a fair assessment, since this is not meant to be a strictly academic work (but rather a popular distillation of decades of work on the topic of optimal experience).Simply put, according to Csikszentmihalyi "flow" is the state in which one's skills are matched well with the challenges one is meant to face when armed with those skills, and both skills and challenges are high. If one's skills are inadequate to meet the challenges one is met with, one will tend to feel anxious, overwhelmed, terrified. If one's skills overmaster one's challenges, one will instead feel bored and stultified. If skills and challenges match but are of a low order, one may feel eager to raise the stakes and proceed to a higher "flow" state. Csikszentmihalyi's thesis is that in order to perform this increase in stakes, one must become adept at focusing one's attention consciously in rule-bound, goal-oriented activities that require a high degree of skill and result in a "complexification" of the individual self as one gains greater, more well-refined skills.Read for what it is, the book is solid and provides good insight into the ways in which one can train oneself to get more out of life. Moreover, the book has already given me a number of pointers to more specific (and more academic) references I may be able to use to hone my pedagogy. For instance, the references on pp. 88-89 to Kevin Rathunde's work with optimal experience in the context of the family should lead to concrete measures for constructing a classroom environment conducive to "flow" experiences. I'll check back in once I've finished this book, and once we've had discussions on it in the faculty learning circle of which I'm a part this summer.more
Csikszentmihalyi explains, better than anyone else has done to date, what factors contribute to meaning and enjoyment in life. His findings are based on solid research and show that all situations provide opportunities for individuals to cultivate flow for themselves. These autotelic people do so by having goals, discovering purpose, engaging in relevant pursuits, keeping challenge in their life, and being fully involved in the resulting experiences. Pity the soul who never discovers their own source and experience of flow.more
Incredible ideas about happiness, productivity and the way people work and motivate themselves. I recommend this book to everyone. And I will read it again and again.more
This book saved my life, I forgot it, I reread it, and it saved my life again more
a bit glibmore
The idea of flow is simple enough and how to achieve it seems pretty straight forward as well. However there are a lot of factors involved in order to make it happen. For me personally a flow state happens when I'm engaged in an activity of my choosing where the motivation is intrinsic. Not all activities to me provide this opportunity but of course every one is different.
In the past I have tried to make games out of boring day jobs in order to make the time pass faster. Sometimes it works others not so much. I can get bored easily and that is only if the activity I'm participating in is boring or is giving me no type of feedback. Who doesn't experience this??
An interesting read for anyone interested in how to enjoy themselves in any type of situation, whether they want to be there or not.more
this is a book. I would live to read. Advice for a lifetimemore
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