Flow
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.

Flow Details

TitleFlow
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 1st, 1990
PublisherHarper Perennial
ISBN-139780060920432
Rating
GenrePsychology, Nonfiction, Self Help, Business, Personal Development

Flow Review

  • Andy Mitchell
    January 1, 1970
    My notes, including liberal use of direct quotes:8 elements of enjoyment: 1. confront challenging but completable tasks 2. concentration 3. clear goals 4. immediate feedback 5. deep, effortless involvement (lack of awareness of worries and frustrations) 6. sense of control over actions 7. concern for self disappears (paradoxically awareness of self is heightened immediately after flow) 8. sense of duration of time is altered5 elements of happy teenagers' growing up: 1. clarity 2. centering: pare My notes, including liberal use of direct quotes:8 elements of enjoyment: 1. confront challenging but completable tasks 2. concentration 3. clear goals 4. immediate feedback 5. deep, effortless involvement (lack of awareness of worries and frustrations) 6. sense of control over actions 7. concern for self disappears (paradoxically awareness of self is heightened immediately after flow) 8. sense of duration of time is altered5 elements of happy teenagers' growing up: 1. clarity 2. centering: parents' interest in the child in that moment 3. choice 4. commitment 5. challenge: parents provide appropriate challenges for their childrenQuadrants of flow:Goal: High challenge, high skillLow challenge, high skill = boredomLow skill, high challenge = anxietyRoger Callois: Four kinds of play 1. agon: competition 2. alea: games of chance 3. ilinx: vetigo, disorienting pleasures 4. mimicryYoga 1. yama: restraint 2. niyama: obedience 3. asana: sitting 4. pranayama: breath control 5. pratyahara: withdrawal; ability to see, feel, and hear at will 6. dharana: holding on; concentrate on single stimulus (opp. of 5) 7. dhyana: intense meditation (sans external object of 6) 8. samadhi: self-collectednessThe 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.Music, Food: Consume passively or savor actively?Memorize facts not to memorize, but to gain understanding and contextualized knowledge.Applying scientific reasoning, mathematical thinking, is viewed as a pleasurable game by experts in the field. How can I encourage this intrinsic enjoyment in my students???Question: The Bible states that work is a punishment for sin. Is our current ability to specialize jobs a gift of systemic cooperation? Maybe for fortunate people like me who love my work, but certainly not for everyone.Transformational (not regressive) coping:" "If one operates with unselfconscious assurance, and remains open to the environment and involved in it, a solution is likely to emerge."Autotelic self: 1. Setting goals 2. Becoming immersed in the activity 3. Paying attention to what is happening 4. Learning to enjoy immediate experienceHow does someone stay relaxed under extreme pressure? "There is nothing to it. We don't get upset because we believe that our life is in God's hands, and whatever He decides will be fine with us."Significant childhood pain can lead to a well-adjusted adult's lifelong theme of service to correct the injustice.This book appears to assume an intrapersonal learning style (NF?)
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  • Meg
    January 1, 1970
    This is quite possibly the most important book I have ever read. Consider it the official "Handbook on Happiness." Part science and part philosophy, it essentially defines happiness itself, then proceeds to explain in detail how we can attain it every waking moment of our lives (hypothetically at least). Although far from a "light read," I found the intense mental concentration the book demanded to be almost physically pleasurable (yes, I am in fact the very definition of a nerd). When I closed This is quite possibly the most important book I have ever read. Consider it the official "Handbook on Happiness." Part science and part philosophy, it essentially defines happiness itself, then proceeds to explain in detail how we can attain it every waking moment of our lives (hypothetically at least). Although far from a "light read," I found the intense mental concentration the book demanded to be almost physically pleasurable (yes, I am in fact the very definition of a nerd). When I closed the book, I immediately begged my dad for his extra copy--just so I could go back through and underline the passages I will need to revisit from now until the day I die. 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! Thanks to this reading experience, I'm on to step #3 now. 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. The meaning of their lives, the focus of their energy, is simple. It might not be enjoyable, but it's simple. We spoiled, idle folk are the ones whining on couches about the lack of fulfillment and happiness in our lives. Why? Because we are overwhelmed by so many complicated concerns that we don't know where to focus our psychic energy.WHAT IS FLOW?Here's the crux of the book. While it examines overall "happiness" briefly, it is more concerned with how to truly enjoy the everyday moments of life. Mr. C refers to the process of “losing yourself” and experiencing Buddha-like enlightenment/self-actualization as a state of “flow.” Everyone—from professional athletes to chess masters and punk street kids—recalls a moment in which they seemed to disappear as a person, entirely immersed in the activity in which they were engaged (this differs greatly from drug use and other chemically altering activities, which are temporary fixes for those desperately needing to experience “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, we’re bored; if it’s too difficult, we’re anxious)(2) the ability to keep concentration focused on the activity (so… THAT’S the problem I had as a stay-at-home-mom :)(3) clearly defined goals that are within the individual’s 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 we’re 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. Mr. C states that “loss of self-consciousness does not involve a loss of the self, and certainly not a loss of consciousness, but rather, only a loss of consciousness OF the self.” THIS IS SO TRUE! As an actress and musician, my worst performances are always the ones in which I am self-conscious about the performance I am giving. There is no room for selfish awareness in flow!)(8) some alteration of time (either “hours feel like minutes” or vice versa)According to Mr. C, the reason most of us classify ourselves as unhappy is that we “keep widening the gap between jobs that are necessary but unpleasant, and leisure pursuits that are enjoyable but have little complexity… To fill free time with activities that require concentration, that increase skills, that lead to a development of the self, is not the same as killing time by watching television or taking recreational drugs.” Once we learn to replicate these essential characteristics of flow, Mr. C contends that we can experience flow in every daily activity—whether performing brain surgery or washing the dishes. I especially appreciated the sections on how to create a meaningful “flow” relationship with your children, as well as his postulations about the flow experience through writing. His ideas on the correlation between attention disorders and depression are amazing. Only one downer—he occasionally spoke in a deprecating and somewhat condescending manner about religion. As a scientifically-minded individual who finds great purpose and opportunities in my faith, I found his comments too generalized. Other than that, he was intoxicatingly brilliant!We can experience flow in our home, work, personal relationships, daily activities, everything! We just glance down the list, discover what condition is missing, and get creative. 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. Bottom line—those who control their inner experience determine their quality of life.Preach it!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? Usually what happens is that the person finds himself back at square one, with a new list of wishes, just as dissatisfied as before. What would really satisfy people is not getting slim or rich, but feeling good about their lives. In the quest for happiness, partial solutions don’t work.Contrary to the myths mankind has created to reassure itself, the universe was not created to answer our needs… A meteorite on a collision course with New York City might be obeying all the laws of the universe, but it would still be a damn nuisance.There is no inherent problem in our desire to escalate our goals, as long as we enjoy the struggle along the way.Mowing the lawn or waiting in a dentist’s office can become enjoyable provided one restructures the activity by providing goals, rules, and the other elements of enjoyment.“The purpose of flow is to keep on flowing, not looking for a peak or utopia but staying in the flow… It is a self-communication.” (a mountain climber on “flow”)Subjective experience is not just one of the dimensions of life, it is life itself. Material conditions are secondary.Of all the virtues we can learn no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.Goals justify the effort they demand at the outset, but later it is the effort that justifies the goal.If goals are well chosen, and if we have the courage to abide by them despite opposition, we shall be so focused on the actions and events around us that we won’t have the time to be unhappy.
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  • Rowena
    January 1, 1970
    "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, FlowI found this book very intriguing. It made me think a lot, especially on what it means to be happy and satisfied. This is not a self-help manual and the reason I picked it up despite it's self-helpy title and cover is because I had read some of Csikszentmihalyi's stuff in my developmental psychology course an "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, FlowI found this book very intriguing. It made me think a lot, especially on what it means to be happy and satisfied. This is not a self-help manual and the reason I picked it up despite it's self-helpy title and cover is because I had read some of Csikszentmihalyi's stuff in my developmental psychology course and found him very insightful. I was definitely not disappointed. The author defines flow as "the process of achieving happiness through control over our inner life." It's funny because I was talking to someone who was pro-cosmetic surgery and they were surprised that I was so against it (barring for reconstructive use). My argument was people do it because they believe they will be happy and it can eventually become an addiction. Maybe my argument was under-developed but I think this book supported my view. A link to the author's TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csiks...
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  • Nathan Maharaj
    January 1, 1970
    You know that uncle you have, who doesn't have any kids and loves to talk your ear off every Thanksgiving, and he's a really nice guy, and he seems to know a lot of stuff, but when you look up the stuff he quotes he seems to always have it a bit off, and he never seems to have a book with him so maybe he did all his reading when he was young, but there's no point calling bullshit on him, and you get a sense he's not really listening anyway -- well, this book is written by that guy. This could ha You know that uncle you have, who doesn't have any kids and loves to talk your ear off every Thanksgiving, and he's a really nice guy, and he seems to know a lot of stuff, but when you look up the stuff he quotes he seems to always have it a bit off, and he never seems to have a book with him so maybe he did all his reading when he was young, but there's no point calling bullshit on him, and you get a sense he's not really listening anyway -- well, this book is written by that guy. This could have been an excellent 10 000 words, but I'm now 3 chapters in without any idea of what his plan is and how he can tell one chapter or sub-chapter from the next.I get what "Flow" is and it's great and I'm all-in. But this is diarrhea.
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  • Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
    January 1, 1970
    How must you live your life?Live it in happiness. But how to be happy? 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 they’ve set up their mahjong table to play, How must you live your life?Live it in happiness. But how to be happy? 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 they’ve set up their mahjong table to play, I’d see them still going at it seemingly still with full energy and attention, as if they have just begun their sessions. I never learned to play mahjong. But I got into my father’s second favourite game: chess. I’ve experienced playing chess games starting Saturday noontime and stopping only at noontime of the next day, Sunday. Never feeling any discomfort, tiredness or the lack of sleep. This is called THE FLOW—the secret of happiness, a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to absolute absorption in an activity.Expand the scope of this “flow” and prolong it. Imagine yourself being in the “flow” until the day you die. Then you could say—regardless of your station in life—that you’ve lived life to the fullest. A quote from the book:“…happiness is not something that happens. It is not the result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy or power command. It does not depend on outside event, but, rather, on how we interpret them. Happiness, in fact, is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person. People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy.“Yet we cannot reach happiness by consciously searching for it. ‘Ask yourself whether you are happy,’ said J.S. Mill, ‘and you cease to be so.’ 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. Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychologist, summarised it beautifully in the preface to his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’: ‘Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue…as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.”
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  • Jeff
    January 1, 1970
    Given the attention this book has received I had some pretty lofty expectations. Sadly, those expectations weren't met. Part of the problem is that "Flow" is widely cited by the current crop of pop-pscyhology books. For that reason I felt like I got the idea of "flow" long before I even cracked C's book. My "heard it all before" feeling wasn't helped by the redundancy that C builds into his text. Authors and editors take note, one really good example or analogy is usually enough to illustrate a Given the attention this book has received I had some pretty lofty expectations. Sadly, those expectations weren't met. Part of the problem is that "Flow" is widely cited by the current crop of pop-pscyhology books. For that reason I felt like I got the idea of "flow" long before I even cracked C's book. My "heard it all before" feeling wasn't helped by the redundancy that C builds into his text. Authors and editors take note, one really good example or analogy is usually enough to illustrate a concept. Two might be helpful, but any more than that and you've reached the point of diminishing returns.Another issue I had with the book was the way research was presented. C insists early in the book that he's not writing an academic work. For that reason he explains that research won't be cited in the usual way. The idea is that he'll spare lay readers the boredom that comes from a lot of high-handed academic jargon. 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. Writers like Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, Jonah Leher, Steven Johnson and a host of other have found effective methods of integrating academic studies in a manner that's neither too daunting nor too pedantic. "Flow", by contrast, eschews this approach and suffers for it. In C's defense, "Flow" was written almost two decades ago, long before many of the aforementioned authors were even through grade school.
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi created the notion of "flow" to describe the experience which we have all had -- but all too rarely for most of us -- of becoming so immersed in and challenged by an experience that we lose track of time, our own self-concsciousness and feel most fully engaged in life. Interestingly, he found, this has little to do with people's most enjoyable leisure activities. Folks love to watch TV and movies, eat dinner with friends and so forth, but rarely does that achieve a state Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi created the notion of "flow" to describe the experience which we have all had -- but all too rarely for most of us -- of becoming so immersed in and challenged by an experience that we lose track of time, our own self-concsciousness and feel most fully engaged in life. Interestingly, he found, this has little to do with people's most enjoyable leisure activities. Folks love to watch TV and movies, eat dinner with friends and so forth, but rarely does that achieve a state of flow. Doing work or an avocation we love, or -- for some of us, reading a really good book :) -- creates flow, where the experience is just challenging enough that it pulls us beyond our usual limits.
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  • Suzanne
    January 1, 1970
    Csikszentmihalyi's seminal work in the field of positive psychology reveals a man with a ridiculously hard to spell last name. 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. Csikszentmihalyi (hereafter referred to as Mr. C) actually prescribes against a state of perpetual satisfaction becaus Csikszentmihalyi's seminal work in the field of positive psychology reveals a man with a ridiculously hard to spell last name. 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. Csikszentmihalyi (hereafter referred to as Mr. C) actually prescribes against a state of perpetual satisfaction because in order for humans to experience the full measure of life they must find the balance between external challenges and their own skill sets. In pursuing challenges that match your skill set you will continually add to your skill set and thus seek new challenges. This harmony will both be created by and result in what he calls flow: the full immersion of the attention in each moment and action of life. Well written throughout, I found the end of the book the most compelling. Here, Mr. C shows us the long view and addresses the synthesis of the various aspects of flow into a harmonious life. 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 by struggled, I mean that in my post-adolescence I've been largely satisfied to answer the question, "What is the meaning of life?", with a shrug and a mumble and a, "Please pass the jelly." I don't know and I don't care. But my kids keep harping on about it. 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. I just stepped on another Lego." But now they are getting older and these things don't work. So, it is nice to have options. Mr. C presents an interesting one. The meaning of life is meaning. Life doesn't come with a universal meaning. But that doesn't mean you can't give it one. So the purpose of your life is to give it some meaning.I dig that. It speaks to the part of me that likes to do it myself. My kids liked it. Everyone was happy. Then I stepped on a Lego and the moment was over but in that moment the seed of an idea was planted. I've presented the tiniest fraction of what the book contains. It is worthy of anyone's time and I can't think of a type of person who wouldn't benefit from reading it. Also, there are vampires and they fall in love. See, something for everyone.
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  • Hadrian
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Tomio
    January 1, 1970
    Flow was a interesting look into the titular state, that of being "in the zone" or the slightly more dated "on fire". Flow is the mental and physical state of being where one is completely absorbed in the task at hand, and so well matched to the task, that everything else disappears from awareness. Csikszentmihaly makes a distinction here between "fun" and "enjoyment", claiming that something does not have to be fun to be enjoyable, and the latter is ultimately preferable to the former. While a Flow was a interesting look into the titular state, that of being "in the zone" or the slightly more dated "on fire". Flow is the mental and physical state of being where one is completely absorbed in the task at hand, and so well matched to the task, that everything else disappears from awareness. Csikszentmihaly makes a distinction here between "fun" and "enjoyment", claiming that something does not have to be fun to be enjoyable, and the latter is ultimately preferable to the former. While a large portion of the book is dedicated to examples of how one can achieve this state in all aspects of life and how this can lead to a more pleasant and fulfilling life, from a game developer perspective I found the requirements for such a state much more interesting than the anecdotal evidence.Csikszentmihaly describes eight aspects of an enjoyable experience, though in terms of requirements, there are really four:1) Skill must match challenge, and vice versa. From my own experience, this is utmost in creating a state of flow. If skill exceeds the challenge of the task, then one falls into boredom and distraction, and if the challenge is too great for one's skill, there is only frustration. Attaining goals, therefore, must be difficult, but not impossible.2) Goals must be clear. Without clearly defined markers of achievement, an activity can easily fall into frustration. They grant direction and purpose to the task, and a way of knowing when one is done. The goal need not be anything more than completing the task at hand (such as hiking a mountain), so long as the goal is well defined.3) Feedback. There must be feedback that one is approaching one's goals. One needs feedback frequently enough to gauge how well one is doing, so that one can either feel good about the progress, or adjust tactics, depending on the content of the feedback.4) Concentration. If a task can be accomplished without explicit attention, then it is merely a distraction. The feedback should always guide attention to the next task.The other four aspects the author presents (that the activity removes awareness of factors outside the task, that one feels in control of the activity, that one's sense of self dissipates during the activity, and that one's sense of time is altered) to me all seem like effects rather than causes of flow.Csikszentmihaly was fairly strongly against "passive" flow activities like watching television, because he argued it required no skill and did not improve the self. However, having read Everything Bad is Good For You I'm not sure I can entirely agree. If you accept his posit that social interactions can also be valid flow activities, then there is no particular reason observing and analyzing the interactions of others (televised or not) would not also be enjoyable and beneficial, if not always pleasant, per se. There must be a reason we watch bad television even when we know it to be bad.So, round about, it is a decent book, and the first half at least is well worth the read for anyone working in interactive media.
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  • Herbie
    January 1, 1970
    I read this for a class called "Human Pursuit of Euphoria" during the winter of 2003 at Exeter. That was my senior year, and I was primarily concerned with finding other outlets for my desire to do drugs. Now I am re-reading it. It helps me think about the nitty gritty of everyday self-motivation. I really like this book, even though it seems like a cheesy self-help book. The footnotes in the back and the constant references to psychology research disarm my usual skepticism. At the same time tha I read this for a class called "Human Pursuit of Euphoria" during the winter of 2003 at Exeter. That was my senior year, and I was primarily concerned with finding other outlets for my desire to do drugs. Now I am re-reading it. It helps me think about the nitty gritty of everyday self-motivation. I really like this book, even though it seems like a cheesy self-help book. The footnotes in the back and the constant references to psychology research disarm my usual skepticism. At the same time that the book has an aura of scholarly dryness, it is not afraid to reference, in a loose and almost associative way, everything and anything - modern life, ancient cultures, philosophies from every corner of the world, sports, games, etc. The ubiquity of the television is often discussed. I would like to put this book's perspective on TV up against Don't Let Me Be Lonely and see what ensues.Some quotes:"The largest part of free time - almost half of it for American adults - is spent in front of the television set... although watching TV requires the processing of visual images, very little else in the way of memor, thinking, or volition is required. Not surprisingly, people report some of the lowest levels of concentration, use of skills, clarity of thought, and feelings of potency when watching television. The other leisure activities people usually do at home are only a little more demanding. Reading most newspapers and magazines, talking to other people, and gazing out the window also involve processing very little new information, and thus require little concentration." (30)"Olympians do not have an exclusive gift in finding enjoyment in pushing performance beyond existing boundaries. Every person, no matter how unfit he or she is, can rise a little higher, go a little faster, and grow to be a little stronger. The joy of surpassing the limits of the body is open to all." (97)On the "institution of 'drinking buddies:'""In the congenial atmosphere of tavern, pub... they grind the day away playing cards, darts, or checkers while arguing and teasing one another. Meanwhile everyone feels his existence validated by the reciprocal attention paid to one another's ideas and idiosyncracies. This... keeps at bay the disorganization that solitude brings to the passive mind, but without stimulating much growth. It is rather like a collective form of television watching, and although it is more complex in that it requires participation, its actions and phrases tend to be rigidly scripted and highly predictable." (186)"When average people are asked to name the individuals they admire the most, and to explain why these men and women are admired, courage and the ability to overcome hardship are the qualities most often mentioned as a reason for admiration." (200)"The future will belong not only to the educated man, but to the man who is educated to use his leisure wisely." - C.K. Brightbill, quoted on p 163.
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  • Saeed
    January 1, 1970
    A good book but can be more condensed. After reading this book, I hardly got more than the above points. I was looking for a "how to" book about creating the flow experience. However, this book is really a life philosophy book, which uses "flow" as a paradigm to describe various aspects of life. The general point is very good: we need to create order in mind. And the way is to have a goal and an "autotelic mindset", mainly, focus on the effort, not on external reward or punishment. Such mindset A good book but can be more condensed. After reading this book, I hardly got more than the above points. I was looking for a "how to" book about creating the flow experience. However, this book is really a life philosophy book, which uses "flow" as a paradigm to describe various aspects of life. The general point is very good: we need to create order in mind. And the way is to have a goal and an "autotelic mindset", mainly, focus on the effort, not on external reward or punishment. Such mindset can be applied to physical, mental and social activities.اگر در گوگل اسکولار نگاه کنید متوجه می شوید که مقاله هایی زیادی به اسم نویسنده در این زمینه به چاپ رسیده است، در حقیقت فلو یک تبلیغ لایف استایل است که من بهش میگم لایف استایل کند slow life style (Levin) versus fast life style (Vronsky) in Anna Karenina مثلاً این سوال مطرح می شود که آیا خوردن شکلات لذت بخش تراست یا شستن ظرف های کثیف واقعاً خیلی جالبه که این نویسنده کار را وسیله ای برای شادی معرفی کرده استمی توان گفت که خوردن شکلات نماینده‌ی سبک زندگی تند و شستن ظرف‌ها نماینده‌ی سبک زندگی کند است(یا مثلاً تلویزیون دیدن (تند) در مقابل کتاب خوندن (کند نمی دونم نویسنده مفهوم فلو را تعریف می‌کند بعدش من توقع داشتم که فرمول رسیدن به فلو را هم بیان کند ولی کتاب راجع به این موضوع صحبتی نکرده و در عوض به بیان سبک زندگی فلو می پردازدبرای من این جوری بود که خواندن کتاب از یک جایی به بعد سخت و خسته کننده بود مخصوصاً دو فصل آخر کتاب که نویسنده به کل از مفهوم فلو فاصله می گیرد و شروع می کند به باز گویی کتاب «انسان در جستجوی معنای» دکتر فرانکل به نظر من کتاب deep work Cal Newportنسبت به کتاب فلو دلچسب تر و بهتر است درسی که آموختم: هرگز تنبلی نکنم اگر از سبک نویسندگی نویسنده و خسته کننده بودن کتاب بگذریم، چیزی که واقعاً من بعد از مطالعه این کتاب و کتاب «کار عمیق» و همچنین کتاب «راه ثروت» بنجامین فرانکلین متوجه شدم، ارزش مند بودن و لذت بخش بودن سبک زندگی است که انسان با کار بدست می آورد. تفکری که من نداشتم، مخصوصاً بعد از خواندن کتاب‌هایی مثل کتاب «پدر پولدار» کیوساکی و«میلیونر فست‌لین» مارکو که برای من این طور شده بود که من دید خوبی نسبت به کار کردن نداشته باشم؛ جوری شده بود که من فکر می‌کردم که هر کسی کار می‌کند درون «رت ریس» قرار دارد
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  • Grant
    January 1, 1970
    I love the idea of Flow - I was introduced to it as a college student performing in a large auditioned choir, and while I feel that the idea of flow is very real, I am completely put off by the way in which the author chose to discuss it.He spends way too much time belittling other groups opinions of how to achieve happiness. If Dr. Csikszentmihalyi's method is so scientifically superior, then he should have the confidence to let his methods and viewpoints stand on their own merit. The whole of I love the idea of Flow - I was introduced to it as a college student performing in a large auditioned choir, and while I feel that the idea of flow is very real, I am completely put off by the way in which the author chose to discuss it.He spends way too much time belittling other groups opinions of how to achieve happiness. If Dr. Csikszentmihalyi's method is so scientifically superior, then he should have the confidence to let his methods and viewpoints stand on their own merit. The whole of the first chapter, which was as much as I could stomach, would have been only 1/4 of its current length if he had spent it talking about his own research and not trying to denegrate other philosophical viewpoints.And that's really what it comes down to: I don't mind too much if an author - particularly an author of research material - toots their own horn just a little. Good research should be praised, striking conclusions should have a little oomph, and boring research material should have a little flair. But to unjustly and overbearingly declare every other viewpoint on a topic completely and utterly wrong is foolish and offensive.Read the Wikipedia version of Flow - it cuts things a little more down to size and you don't have to deal with an author who's own self-esteem appears to be tied to how much he puts down every other viewpoint.
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  • Karan Bajaj
    January 1, 1970
    This book has a lot of parallels with Eastern mysticism which I've studied for some years. I love the fundamental thesis: your only true moments of transcendental happiness in life are when the "I"--the mind-intellect-ego complex--is completely dissolved. You're so absorbed in an activity that you forget yourself. This is consistent with Eastern thought where the complete dissolution of the self is the goal of human endeavor. I was very impressed with how well researched and how clearly presente This book has a lot of parallels with Eastern mysticism which I've studied for some years. I love the fundamental thesis: your only true moments of transcendental happiness in life are when the "I"--the mind-intellect-ego complex--is completely dissolved. You're so absorbed in an activity that you forget yourself. This is consistent with Eastern thought where the complete dissolution of the self is the goal of human endeavor. I was very impressed with how well researched and how clearly presented the thesis was.
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  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    This book has a sometimes annoying pedantic tone, but is basically an interesting repackaging of Buddhist ideas with a view to providing concrete recommendations for how to enjoy your life more. I don't think the author specifically aligns himself with Buddhism, but the parallels are clear to me.
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  • Pradnya K.
    January 1, 1970
    It's been some time I was reading it. It's one of those books that read focus and makes you not feel but think. The book gets condensed at times, compelling the reader to think, sometimes ponder on his personal life and on human behavior throughout the history. (whatever we know of that) Many a times it brings back solutions or rather a promise to the nagging questions like what is happiness? Why I'm feeling something is amiss in my life though everything is in order? What is the greatest joy on It's been some time I was reading it. It's one of those books that read focus and makes you not feel but think. The book gets condensed at times, compelling the reader to think, sometimes ponder on his personal life and on human behavior throughout the history. (whatever we know of that) Many a times it brings back solutions or rather a promise to the nagging questions like what is happiness? Why I'm feeling something is amiss in my life though everything is in order? What is the greatest joy one can find? The crux of the book is what the writer describes as Flow, the action which takes our mind off the goal, time, worries and every other thing except the current moment. This Flow act commands attention and bring a sense of achievement and control. Every person has his own set of flow moments, like a mountaineer while climbing mountains, a dancer while dancing or a player in the act of play, provided the complexity of the act and his skills do match.I remember my bicycle learning experience when I think of this. It made me forget everything accept a pedal at a time and maintaining balance. The mind was focused on only one pedal at a time and rest of the world was just out of context. That's one act. The book also speaks of the occupations and how the one following his favorite vocation seems radiating in spite of the hard work. I recalled my dedicated, diligent surgeon friends who always seem to be having the best times of their lives. I ask them how was the day and I always get the answer, "it was a beautiful day." I never thought it was made-up answer but after reading the book I see why they enjoy their work. It seems like a lifetime of research went in writing this book. There is study of philosophies, of religions, of history. It's one of those books that should lie on the top of the book shelf and one should return to, every now and then.
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  • Layla
    January 1, 1970
    This book is filled with insight. The author explains the personality type possessed by those who experience flow often, the "autotelic" personality. He says that these individuals interpret their negative circumstances in a positive way, continually challenge and enrich themselves, and take ownership of their choices making them more dedicated to their goals. He discusses how to experience flow - that one must become immersed in the activity and perform it for its own sake, in a manner that is This book is filled with insight. The author explains the personality type possessed by those who experience flow often, the "autotelic" personality. He says that these individuals interpret their negative circumstances in a positive way, continually challenge and enrich themselves, and take ownership of their choices making them more dedicated to their goals. He discusses how to experience flow - that one must become immersed in the activity and perform it for its own sake, in a manner that is not self-conscious. He states that having so many options to pursue can lead to uncertainty of purpose and that we can master this challenge by having self-knowledge. My favorite passage, "One of the basic differences between a person with an autotelic self and one without it is that the former knows that it is she who has chosen whatever goal she is pursuing. What she does is not random, nor is it the result of outside determining forces. This fact results in two seemingly opposite outcomes. On the one hand, having a feeling of ownership of her decisions, the person is more strongly dedicated to her goals. Her actions are reliable and internally controlled. On the other hand, knowing them to be her own, she can more easily modify her goals whenever the reasons for preserving them no longer make sense. In that respect, an autotelic person’s behavior is both more consistent and more flexible." pg. 210
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  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    It took months to finish this book because there's only so much of Mihaly's BS that I can take at a time. The last chapter is a real piece of work, containing (a) an apology for Adolf Eichmann and (b) a call to eugenics as a foundation for a new religion: "The reality of complexification [sic:] is both an *is* and an *ought*: it has happened...but it might not continue unless we wish it to go on. The future of evolution is now in our hands." Is Csikszentmihalyi an insidious repressed Nazi or jus It took months to finish this book because there's only so much of Mihaly's BS that I can take at a time. The last chapter is a real piece of work, containing (a) an apology for Adolf Eichmann and (b) a call to eugenics as a foundation for a new religion: "The reality of complexification [sic:] is both an *is* and an *ought*: it has happened...but it might not continue unless we wish it to go on. The future of evolution is now in our hands." Is Csikszentmihalyi an insidious repressed Nazi or just careless with his words? Having slogged through this book, I'd vote for the latter.Flow is full of oversimplification, intellectual infantilism, and Freudian pseudoscience, but if that's your cup of tea. Feel free to drink.
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  • Guillaume
    January 1, 1970
    This book explains that true happiness is obtained by achieving an optimal state of mind called "Flow".This state of mind can be best described as one where the participant's consciousness is so involved in its activity that self-consciousness disappears, in a way similar to meditation.This state is most commonly achieved in situations where a goal that participant(s) feel skilled to achieve is set clearly, and for which constant feedback on how close participants are getting. Such Flow experien This book explains that true happiness is obtained by achieving an optimal state of mind called "Flow".This state of mind can be best described as one where the participant's consciousness is so involved in its activity that self-consciousness disappears, in a way similar to meditation.This state is most commonly achieved in situations where a goal that participant(s) feel skilled to achieve is set clearly, and for which constant feedback on how close participants are getting. Such Flow experiences lead to personal growth and true happiness.These very simple recommendations can be applied to one's life, to educating children, to manage people in a corporate environment, or to define a country's policies.Some quotes I found interesting:"If we assume, however, that the desire to achieve optimal experience is the foremost goal of every human being, the difficulties of interpretation raised by cultural relativism become less severe. Each social system can then be evaluated in terms of how much psychic entropy it causes, measuring that disorder not with reference to the ideal order of one or another belief system, but with reference to the goals of the members of that society. A starting point would be to say that one society is "better" than another if a greater number of its people have access to experiences that are in line with their goals. A second essential criterion would specify that these experiences should lead to the growth of the self on an individual level, by allowing as many people as possible to develop increasingly complex skills.""The Isé Shrine [south of Kyoto, Japan] was built about fifteen hundred years ago on one of a pair of adjacent fields. Every twenty years or os it has been taken down from the field it was standing on and rebuilt on the next one. By 1973, it had been reerected for the sixtieth time. The strategy adopted by the monks of Isé resembles one that several statesmen have only dreamed about accomplishing. For example, both Thomas Jefferson and Chairman Mao Ze-dong believed that each generation needed to make its own revolution for its members to stay actively involved in the political system ruling their lives"Things that go against Flow:- "Anomy: the norms of society have become muddled"- "Alienation: people are constrained by the social system to act in ways that go against their goals.""Family context promoting optimal experience could be described as having five characteristics. The first one is clarity: teenagers feel that they know what their parents expect from them - goal and feedback in the family interaction are unambiguous. The second is centering, or the children's perception that their parents are interested in what they are doing in the present, in their concrete feelings and experiences, rather than preoccupied with whether they will be getting into a good college or obtaining a well-paying job. Next is the issue of choice: children feel that they have a variety of possibilities from which to choose, including that of breaking parental rules - as long as they are prepared to face the consequences. The fourth differentiating characteristic is commitment, or the trust that allows the child to feel comfortable enough to set aside the shield of his defenses and become unselfconsciously involved in whatever he is interested in. And finally there is challenge, or the parents' dedication to provide increasingly complex opportunities for action to their children"
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  • Mario Tomic
    January 1, 1970
    One of the best books you will ever read, if you can pick only 5 books to read in your life this would be one of those! The author simply asked "What makes a life worth living?" It's clearly nothing that money can buy. The book is about how people find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring them in a state the author calls "flow." Super interesting book, can't recommend it enough.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    Every once in a while I read a book that I think some people I know might like or should read, and other times I read a book that I think everyone should read. This is one of those books. It can profoundly change or fortify the way you look at life and happiness…in a good way! I am SO impressed. I wasn’t two chapters in when I was buying a copy for my wife, starting a weekly video-chat with my brother as we read through it together, and telling other friends about it. It did not disappoint. I tr Every once in a while I read a book that I think some people I know might like or should read, and other times I read a book that I think everyone should read. This is one of those books. It can profoundly change or fortify the way you look at life and happiness…in a good way! I am SO impressed. I wasn’t two chapters in when I was buying a copy for my wife, starting a weekly video-chat with my brother as we read through it together, and telling other friends about it. It did not disappoint. I truly think everyone who is serious about living life to its fullest should read this book. However, that is not to say that I think everyone is ready to read this book, partly because it is slow-going in parts and one would probably need to be accustomed to reading in general just to get through it; or a person’s life may be too busy to really soak it in; or it may be outside the range of understanding until some other foundation is laid. It’s a relatively short book (about 230 pages), but it could take some time to assimilate the revolutionary concepts.I can hear the question now, “What’s so revolutionary about it?” Well, wipe that sneer off your face (and the piece of brownie on your chin…a little lower…to the right…there…got it) and let me tell ya! It claims that we can be most happy when we encounter problems; that we are often unaware of how unfulfilled we are during our free time, or vice versa, how fulfilled we are when working; that we can enjoy ‘optimum experience’ in any employment at any pay rate; that we often miss out of fulfilling experiences because we don’t know how to identify and pursue opportunities for ‘flow’; and a meaningful life can be lived with satisfaction on a variety of levels, with potential for adjusting and redirecting goals/action at any moment. Hear me when I say, this book really helps to clear up the ideas of happiness, enjoyment, purpose, and meaning in life. It isn’t a tired self-help book or the latest insipid leadership bestseller. It’s ground-breaking in psychology and sociology, bringing new light to the meaning of work and suffering, and explaining why and how we can enjoy life as a result from—not merely in spite of—difficulty. “The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”And, for what it’s worth to some, I found this to be an exquisitely phrased and very nicely illustrated response to the rise of relativistic inertia (aporia) in postmodern worldviews that some feel will inevitably bankrupt the morality of future generations. This book, however, would indicate otherwise, namely that a lifestyle of meaning, happiness and moral stability is possible with a postmodern mindset. What’s more, a person who is free from the constraints of antiquated rules and traditions that are no longer relevant or helpful in our world have more opportunities, not less, to enlarge his sense of meaning and happiness in the universe.To begin with, the author uses the word “flow” to mean that state of naturally confident and euphoric being we sometimes describe as being “in the zone,” or enjoying a attitude of absolute positivity and a sense of accomplishment. It is where one feels like there is a strong and steady flow to the process of one’s experience of life that produces a sense of overall purpose and rightness. We all know that feeling. We sometimes describe it as feeling like we’re doing something that we were “born to do.” It’s the thrill of mastery over chaos, the moving of a mountain, or trailblazing a new territory which brings intense focus and elation. “Flow [is] the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.” It’s not the restful state of not-being-bothered, but exercising control and exerting oneself with positive results, including a new sense of order in one’s actions and, what’s further, a sense of knowing one’s place in the universe.To study people’s widely varying experiences of flow, the author and his research team at the University of Chicago tried something ingenious. They sent home beepers to thousands of people all over the world: aging women in Korea, adults in Thailand and India, teenagers in Tokyo, Navajo shepherds, farms in the Italian Alps, and workers on the assembly line in Chicago. The beepers went off at random times throughout the week, and participants had to stop what they were doing to journal a few things inluding what they were doing, what they were feeling, what they were thinking about, and what they would rather be doing.What they found was a pattern of experiencing flow that was consistent with people in all places, occupations, and stages of life. The research team’s study found—as illustrated in a graph where the x axis represents difficulty, and the y axis represents skills—that for most people if difficulty in tasks increased, but their skills did not increase, the result was anxiety; while increasing skills without increasing difficulty/challenges resulted in boredom. (See graph at http://www.gamasutra.com/db_area/imag...) Enjoyment, or “flow”, became evidenced as the vector between the two that revealed a balance of difficulty/skills that were continually increasing in complexity. The possibility of experiencing flow was pretty much, across the board, attainable by anyone in any situation. The research also concluded that flow might even be more often present in situations where a person may not have been conscious of the potential for flow, like at work or during an arduous task; while, ironically, they reported experiencing less flow during their vacation, weekends, or free time. Even so, the experience of flow appeared to be largely unacknowledged by participants in the study when it wasn’t anticipated, and they still reported a desire to be somewhere other than work even when experiencing flow, chasing that ever-elusive, difficulty-free pastime that would be thrilling and fulfilling with the least amount of work. This is explained by the author as a culturally ingrained expectation, a desire for some type of easy-Eden that appears in every culture’s mythos.Evidently, enjoyment far outweighs pleasure in most people’s values. “Enjoyment occurs when a person has not only met some prior expectation or satisfied a need or a desire [pleasure]; but has gone beyond what he or she has been programmed to do and achieved something unexpected, perhaps something even unimagined before.” In this sense, enjoyment is a transcendent becoming of more than one was, an expansion of being; or what Nietzsche would describe as life “which must ever surpass itself.” The author lists and gives excellent treatment of the conditions and symptoms of this enjoyment, which are:1. Confronting achievable tasks2. Concentration3. Clear goals4. Immediate feedback5. Deep and effortless involvement that crowds out other worries6. Sense of control over actions/environment7. Loss of self-awareness, but stronger awareness after activity ends 8. Loss of sense of timeBut lest someone think that enjoyment sounds too strictly formulaic, we must keep in mind that enjoyment might indeed occur accidentally, but the author is mostly interested in helping people learn from, so as to repeat, their experiences of enjoyment in life, which enjoyment is always a possibility in any circumstance since everything we do is potentially a source of enjoyment. Not only can we find enjoyment in any situation, but the author concludes that the mind can be exercised as a ‘dissipative structure’, which is a system that actually feeds off chaotic or destructive energy and channels it in positive ways. “Without [dissipative capabilities] we would be constantly suffering through the random bombardment of stray psychological meteorites” calculated to reduce our focus and effectiveness. Enjoyment, then, is not only a creation of meaningful experiences (‘autotelic’—self purposing) from static factuality, but it can also be a transformation of negative energy into positive energy (‘dissipative’). Order in the mind is something we take for granted. When the ideas inside our head about the world are ordered well, the world outside our head is better managed and adapted to. When disorder arises, so do frustration, confusion, anger, and fear. The author hits this emphasis of cognitive structure pretty hard. Order in the mind offers better choices and paths in the world, and helps to sort and sharpen our skills as difficulty increases. “Everything we experience—joy or pain, interest or boredom—is represented in the mind as information. If we are able to control this information, we can decide what our lives will be like.” Any professional without an accurate internal map of the world or sophisticated gear developed by an internal plan is not going to be as effective. Language, music, poetry, memory, internal dialogue, and creative games are all discussed by the author as ways to utilize our ability to encode the external world in a downloadable ‘binary’ of abstractions and symbols which help to order and evolve this inner world.Games are given no trivial role here. Everything in life is a potential game-- as one philosopher put it, “everything that happens to us is a chance”—and every challenge can cultivate skills and increase complexity with regular feedback and rewards. I am reminded of Thoreau’s words, “Let not to get a living be thy trade, but thy sport.” Small games incorporated into daily life are dubbed by the author ‘microflow’, small games which help us find enjoyment and create ‘play’ out of the mundane. I especially loved the author’s comparison of culture with game. “The difference [between culture and game] is mainly one of scale…both consist of more or less arbitrary goals and rules that allow people to become involved in a process and act with a minimum of doubts and distractions…culture as a whole becomes a ‘great game’.” He sees religion, law, customs and traditions to be ways to set manageable, though perhaps sometimes narrow and abortive, parameters on an otherwise infinite host of options and information. “Cultures are defensive constructions against chaos…Cultures prescribe norms, evolve goals, build beliefs that help us tackle the challenges of existence. In so doing they must rule out many alternative goals and beliefs, and thereby limit possibilities; but this channeling of attention to a limited set of goals and means is what allows effortless action within self-created boundaries.”Religion and custom even of the most primitive nature can optimize “life-space” (my words), exploring and exhausting the possibilities of a limited sphere of thought and existence, although it becomes quickly detrimental when cultural space is optimized but there is no growth towards increasing complexity or extending the boundaries outward. A checker’s game has only so many moves; new chess pieces and rules increase the possibilities and skills involved with the same board; a different board altogether allows for a larger variety of games and therefore skills developed. The goal of flow is enjoyment through optimized practice and growth, and this is facilitated by respecting the rules of culture and game, but also being willing to change the rules and even the game when the time comes.The author bear-hugs some big topics for such a little book, including the nature of consciousness and the ‘meaning of meaning’, the latter actually being an excellent application of his ideas to the bigger questions of life. He breaks down the semantics of the word ‘meaning’ into three categories: 1) Meaning as a ultimate goal or purpose (“the meaning of food is give us energy”), 2) Meaning as personal intention and resolution (“he was meaning to take the trash out”), and 3) Meaning as a personal ordering of impersonal information, identities and events (“the sound of ambulance sirens means that someone is in need of medical attention”). He goes on to expound on these senses of meaning as applied to our desire to discover the meaning of life, and he actually does a fantastic job on the topic, even if the results may seem initially anticlimactic to theistic worldviews.To the question, “How do we learn which goals are worthwhile to pursue with the antiquation of many traditional values and goals?” he answers by, “Through trial and error, through intense cultivation, we can straighten out the tangled skein of conflicting goals, and choose the one that will give purpose to our action.” Not as comforting as it may be true. Consciousness has brought some boons (though the author was a bit obscure on this point when he compared human consciousness with animal behavior which apparently is “always in a state of flow”) as far as more nuanced enjoyment and complexity of being through tackling more difficult goals and struggling towards the light of understanding and mastery; but there’s no denial that problems become more complex too, and often challenges and skills are out of balance for a time, inducing anxiety or boredom.Now, to be fair, and I feel like someone should say it at this point, so it might as well be me, despite the overwhelmingly positive tenor of the book and the proposition that enjoyment is achievable by all people in all situations; still, some people’s lives suck, and that’s all there is to it. Take, for example, children exploited in forced labor, abuse, or neglect; people with mind-crippling illnesses or disabilities; or anyone in situations that endure unimaginable cruelty or agony emotionally, mentally, or physically. Granted, the author says that “stress exists only if we experience it; it takes the most extreme objective conditions to cause it directly”, but those extreme conditions do exist for some people, and the only way out is a cure and not merely a new way to look at the problem. But the author’s point is that extreme, volition-crippling circumstances and suffering are the exceptions, not the rule; and it would behoove us to prepare for what we can fix, not what we can’t fix. And, as a rule, we are able to experience enjoyment much more than we often tend to believe, as our dissipative, autotelic capabilities are much more vast and near to hand than we often assess them to be. Overall, I found this author to be extremely reasonable and balanced in his approach, and I began to trust him the more I read. He used a multitude of real life vignettes, staying grounded in reality by widely varied anecdotes. He never drifted too far into theory before he snapped back to real life. It seemed very fair and considerate towards differing viewpoints, especially regarding the value of historical events and belief systems which have helped to shape humanity. He doesn’t claim to offer a final weltanschuuang—an answer to everything—but he does offer something…that works! So, there’s that. It seems that a universal practice—not a uniform, formally expressed praxis—has worked pretty well for people throughout all time and places to produce flow and enjoyment; and still seems to be, at bottom, what makes people most happy. At the very least this is a good fix until we find what we are looking for.Well done, Csikszentmihalyi! Bravo!
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  • First Second Books
    January 1, 1970
    I know this is an old book but I dusted it off the other day when I was downsizing my bookshelf and gave it another read. I usually find pyschology books a total snooze, but another artist suggested it to me years ago when we were talking about the state of hyperfocus you get when you're "in the zone" with a project and the feeling of happiness you get from accomplishing it. Since reading, I've come to seek out ways to improve concentration and performance to achieve this state in more areas of I know this is an old book but I dusted it off the other day when I was downsizing my bookshelf and gave it another read. I usually find pyschology books a total snooze, but another artist suggested it to me years ago when we were talking about the state of hyperfocus you get when you're "in the zone" with a project and the feeling of happiness you get from accomplishing it. Since reading, I've come to seek out ways to improve concentration and performance to achieve this state in more areas of life, more frequently. Would recommend to all types of creatives and athletes, but can be applied broadly.
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  • King
    January 1, 1970
    Flow is the state where all mental energies are concentrated on an event which results in the person attaining "optimal experience," which is basically happiness. C(I refuse to spell this authors insane surname), states that to be happy we need to lessen our mental chaos by providing/creating a structure for our mental energies to play in. He identifies certain conditions required to achieve flow: 1. The person must be engaged in an activity that requires skill. 2. There is a convergence of Acti Flow is the state where all mental energies are concentrated on an event which results in the person attaining "optimal experience," which is basically happiness. C(I refuse to spell this authors insane surname), states that to be happy we need to lessen our mental chaos by providing/creating a structure for our mental energies to play in. He identifies certain conditions required to achieve flow: 1. The person must be engaged in an activity that requires skill. 2. There is a convergence of Action and Awareness 3. Clear goals and feedback4. The activity has structure5. Focus6. The loss of self consciousness7. The loss of the awareness of timeTo be honest I was disappointed with this book. After reading Haidt's "The Happiness Hypothesis," I had such high expectations for one of the pioneers of the Positive Psychology movement. I can see why some critics claim the movement is merely neo-humanism. A rehashing of what Adler, Maslow, Erickson et al have said. To be fair though, he did write in the preface that he had written this edition in laymen's terms. I think he watered it down too much. It read like a run of the mill self-help book, with the usual "its not the situation, it's your interpretation of it," that determines your feelings, etc. etc. etc. I feel like the book merely points out things that, on some level, we all intuitively know already. The book is content in merely observing and categorizing human behavior, an attribute of popular psychology, which I feel gives psychology demerits in credibility. The book is content with saying aim for this but barely touches the surface of the important thing which is: how? I also have qualms in C's method of data collection. He uses a method he calls the ESM or Experience Sampling Method. The method involves giving subjects a pager that will sound at certain points of the day. The subject is then suppose to write down their feelings at that time. Basically a sporadic interviewing of the subjects. This poses a problem as what people write are not really what they mean. For example, in Cacioppo and Patrick's "Loneliness," they presented a subject who overtly showed and expressed that he was a happy person. But when the subject was asked to answer a questionnaire used to determine if someone is depressed, his answers revealed that he was indeed the opposite of what he was telling people. He was depressed and he agreed to the findings of the questionnaire. Of course in any science, our measurements are only as good as the tools we use to measure with. In psychology, this becomes convoluted. I do however, think of the postulates much. Particularly when I am working with my client who is cognitively impaired, I think, "How can I get this person into flow?" So there is definitely something there. I just wish he hadn't buried the paradigm with glitter.
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  • Amir
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, an essential book for anyone who seeks a stress-free, productive, meaningful life and eager to achieve extreme levels of mastery. This book introduces a vitally important concept: "Flow" in which one finds her/himself happy, away from all anxieties and worries, full of enjoyment which if recruited systematically leads to development of self. This holy state of flow can be achieved in any situation and I think this is the very essence of the book since it has the potential to turn any situat Wow, an essential book for anyone who seeks a stress-free, productive, meaningful life and eager to achieve extreme levels of mastery. This book introduces a vitally important concept: "Flow" in which one finds her/himself happy, away from all anxieties and worries, full of enjoyment which if recruited systematically leads to development of self. This holy state of flow can be achieved in any situation and I think this is the very essence of the book since it has the potential to turn any situation be it a disastrous or a routine boring one to a joyful, self-improving moment. Author surveys flow in different aspects of life from personal to friendship and family. I highly recommend this marvellous book to anyone for it has the capacity to provide subjects with a powerful weapon by which one can make his/her life meaningful and joyful and turn even the most mundane task interesting.
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  • Michael Dubakov
    January 1, 1970
    Великолепная модель жизни и концепция счастья. Обычное состояние сознания — хаос. Мысли скачут, нас охватывает тревога и экзистенциальный ужас поселяется внутри. Для борьбы с хаосом нужны диссипативные структуры. Деятельность человека создает такие структуры. Степень полезности структур может быть разная. В простейшем случае — это пассивная активность, вроде просмотра телевизора. В лучшем случае — это сложная активность, которая позволяет достигать состояния потока. В этом состоянии мы полностью Великолепная модель жизни и концепция счастья. Обычное состояние сознания — хаос. Мысли скачут, нас охватывает тревога и экзистенциальный ужас поселяется внутри. Для борьбы с хаосом нужны диссипативные структуры. Деятельность человека создает такие структуры. Степень полезности структур может быть разная. В простейшем случае — это пассивная активность, вроде просмотра телевизора. В лучшем случае — это сложная активность, которая позволяет достигать состояния потока. В этом состоянии мы полностью побеждаем рефлексию, погружаясь в активность, и испытываем счастье. Фактически счастье — это победа над хаосом сознания через потоковые переживания.У жизни нет смысла, но это позволяет нам заложить в нее *любой* смысл (цель), который будет помогать нам генерировать непрерывное состояние потока. В идеале все потоковые активности будут складываться в единую картинку, фокусируясь на цели и фактически создавая ощущение счастья. Это все очень резонирует с моими мыслями и ощущением жизни, подводя под все фундамент и наделяя пониманием. Я совершенно восхищен.
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  • د.أمجد الجنباز
    January 1, 1970
    من الكتب الصعبة بالرغم من محاولة مؤلفه على تبسيطه كما ذكرالكتاب يحوي ابحاثا عن السعادة، وكيفية الحصول عليهايذكر الكتاب الحالة التي يدخل فيها الشخص عندما يمارس مهاما يعشقها، سما هذا الحالة بحالة التجربة المثاليةOptimal Experienceوذكر أن الشخص في هذه الحالة يندمج بالعمل، وينعزل عن المحيط وينسى ما حوله ويكون في قمة المتعةوسمى هذا الشعور باسمFlowالكتاب من الكتب الكلاسيكية التي يرجع لها معظم من يتكلم عن السعادة، لكن صعوبته جعلتني اعطيه ٤ نجوم
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  • Katherine Addison
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a little disheartened to learn that Csikszentmihalyi has gone on to become "the world's foremost producer of personal development and motivational audio programs," because that makes his work sound like exactly the kind of self-help bullshit that he says, in Flow, doesn't do any good. But I can see where, from what he wrote in 1990, he could have become a proselytizer for his theory, and, yeah, that is going to lead you into "personal development" and similar dreadful sounding things.Csiksze I'm a little disheartened to learn that Csikszentmihalyi has gone on to become "the world's foremost producer of personal development and motivational audio programs," because that makes his work sound like exactly the kind of self-help bullshit that he says, in Flow, doesn't do any good. But I can see where, from what he wrote in 1990, he could have become a proselytizer for his theory, and, yeah, that is going to lead you into "personal development" and similar dreadful sounding things.Csikszentmihalyi's theory may not be everybody's dish of tea, and the stronger he comes on the more nervous he makes me, but nevertheless I found this book extremely illuminating and helpful, as it explained to me something about myself that I've noticed for years without having the words to describe.Csikszentmihalyi says that what makes people happy are activities which have (a) clear goals, (b) clear rules, (c) clear challenges that are neither too difficult (leading to frustration) nor too easy (leading to boredom). He points out that for all we have been socially conditioned to prize unstructured leisure time in which to do nothing (i.e., watch TV), it provides only passive pleasure and does not actually make anyone happy. Unless, of course, you turn your TV into an activity that involves what he calls "flow," which is a possibility that doesn't seem to have occurred to him. He says that people who are good at "flow" (what most athletes call being "in the zone") are able to create these activities for themselves out of jobs that other people find boring or in fact out of boredom itself. He cites the charming example of Herr Doktor Meier-Leibnitz (yes, a descendant of the Leibnitz who was Newton's rival), who invented a complicated finger-tapping pattern game to amuse himself during boring conference presentation. Not only does this game alleviate his boredom without taking away too much of his attention, it allows him, because he knows how long it takes him to go through an iteration, to time how long a problem-solving train of thought lasts. Csikszentmihalyi says that these criteria for flow activities remain the same across differences of class, race, nationality, sex, and age, and that people describe the feeling of "flow" in ways that are recognizably the same, whether they are blind Italian nuns or teenage Japanese gang members.And it explains to me my fondness for translation, for algebra, for crossword puzzles, logic puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and all kinds of puzzle-solving games, for rock climbing (several of his interview subjects are rock climbers), and for dressage, because--as widely disparate as they are when considered as activities--they all meet Csikszentmihalyi's criteria for "flow." I can even recognize that I have invented a flow activity out of my day job, which explains a great deal why I like it.And I can see that writing used to be a flow activity, but that I've somehow lost the unconscious ability to set goals, so that now I veer wildly between "I've done this before, the puzzle is solved" (boredom), or "omg this is impossible, I'll never be able to do it" (frustration and despair). And Csikszentmihalyi gives me objective guidelines that show what's gone wrong and that offer, if not a solution, at least an avenue of exploration more promising than I've had in a while.And I appreciate the way that he points out that activities we undertake for their own sake, not because we "ought" to or because they will make us "successful," are the activities we find most enjoyable and most enriching, and thus the activities that are actually more likely to bring us a feeling of satisfaction and success--and more likely to produce poetry, art, music, scientific breakthroughs, etc. He gives a quote from one of his respondents, someone who is both a rock-climber and a poet, which I have added to my collection of quotes that I keep around my desk where they will provide a sanity check: "The act of writing justifies poetry."I do, yes, find him a little smug, and his understanding of evolution is woefully unnuanced and kind of wrong--not surprising for someone who coined the term "autotelic" to describe people who create flow out of the materials to hand. He is decidedly a teleological thinker who sees evolution as a steady advance toward more complex and therefore better and therefore humans are the current pinnacle of evolution and must take their own evolution in their autotelic hands to make the species advance rather than stagnate or regress. So take his somewhat megalomaniacal concluding chapter with a liberal application of salt, but if you recognize yourself in anything I've said, you might want to give Flow a look.
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  • Sergey Khomyuk
    January 1, 1970
    Поток. Психология оптимального переживания (Михай Чиксентмихайи)Тема: саморазвитие (психология)Оценка: 5+Попробуйте пару-тройку минут ничего не делать и абсолютно ни о чем не думать. Непростая задача, да? Наш мозг просто на дух не переносит пустоту и всячески пытается заполнить его какими-то хаотическими мыслями в попытке зацепиться хоть за что-нибудь. Примерно такая же ситуация возникает, когда мы беремся за сильно простую или слишком сложную для нас задачу. Нам становится сложно контролировать Поток. Психология оптимального переживания (Михай Чиксентмихайи)Тема: саморазвитие (психология)Оценка: 5+Попробуйте пару-тройку минут ничего не делать и абсолютно ни о чем не думать. Непростая задача, да? Наш мозг просто на дух не переносит пустоту и всячески пытается заполнить его какими-то хаотическими мыслями в попытке зацепиться хоть за что-нибудь. Примерно такая же ситуация возникает, когда мы беремся за сильно простую или слишком сложную для нас задачу. Нам становится сложно контролировать фокус нашего внимания, направление мыслей виляет то вправо, то влево пытаясь отыскать спасительную "жвачку" для серого вещества.Но все меняется, когда приходит ОН! Я уверен, что каждый человек когда-нибудь да испытывал на себе состояние потока: Вы полностью погружены в задачу, не замечаете, что происходит вокруг Вас, кажется, что время почти остановилось, а каждая следующая мысль, действие или движение плавно вытекает из предыдущего без единого "шва" и "зазора". Время, проведённое в состоянии потока, является самым продуктивным и приятным.Именно этому состоянию ума и посвящена книга Михай Чиксентмихайи. Автор подробно рассматривает основные компоненты и предпосылки для возникновения состояния потока. Так, например, одним из ключевых критериев является "правильный" уровень сложности задачи: она должна быть ровно такой, чтобы её решение не было для нас чрезвычайно сложным, но в то же время не было сильно простым. Священный Грааль продуктивности находится ровно посередине между рутиной и страхом не справится с поставленной задачей. Чиксентмихайи доступно и подробно рассказывает про психологические и социальные аспекты состояния потока, не забывая при этом про примеры и практические аспекты вопроса.Книга, вне всяких сомнений, получает оценку в 5+ баллов и отправляется в список "MUST READ". Для меня "Поток" стал особенной книгой - она легла аккуратным кирпичиком в конструкцию моего мировосприятия, объединяя важные для меня концепции из самых разных областей: йоги, нейробиологии, психологии и персональной продуктивности.P.S. Более подробный обзор книги от The Village: http://www.the-village.ru/village/bus...
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  • Jay Kamaladasa
    January 1, 1970
    Five stars because it broadened my perspective on life. This is not a full review of the book, but a glimpse of what the author has to say. What the book describes is far more important to be buried down a criticism of literature. 1.) We overcompensate our efforts in work, and under-compensate our efforts in our leisure lives. 2.) If you fine tune your life's challenges so that they are sufficient to keep you from being bored, and not limited to ensure minimal stress and anxiety, you are ready t Five stars because it broadened my perspective on life. This is not a full review of the book, but a glimpse of what the author has to say. What the book describes is far more important to be buried down a criticism of literature. 1.) We overcompensate our efforts in work, and under-compensate our efforts in our leisure lives. 2.) If you fine tune your life's challenges so that they are sufficient to keep you from being bored, and not limited to ensure minimal stress and anxiety, you are ready to achieve "Flow"3.) Flow can be achieved in all areas in life: work, thought, music, sex, food, exercise, friendship, marriage and even casual conversation. 4.) Flow is not necessarily moral. It is however, very efficient state of mind. 5.) The concept of entropy of the mind. How the mind can wander if it's not subject by external controls or internal ambitions. 6.) Why solitude is perhaps the most Mental Entropy inducing agent in our lives. This is why even though "Hell is other people", we constantly seek the company of other humans. 7.) How television and drugs can temporarily decrease mental entropy. 8.) The importance of non-self-conscious self assuredness in achieving flow. And the "Autotelic" personality. 9.) The importance of setting achievable goals and going through with them. - Basically the Absurdist philosophy of life. In terms of readability, the book is okay. There's quite a bit of redundancy but it has it's own "flow" to it (pardon the pun). The author could have done a bit more with it though, by connecting modern psychological studies and philosophy rather than giving anecdotal examples. But he got the point across, and it did change how I look at things quite a bit. So thumbs up!
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  • D
    January 1, 1970
    this book makes a lot of sense. it's about happiness, consciousness, work, relationships, and purpose--and basically, the thesis is that people are happiest when they have clear goals and well-defined perimeters to work within to achieve those goals. sounds a little dry, but I found it both interesting and relevant. as someone who is still working out what my "ideal" career or life model looks like, I enjoyed seeing my typical questions examined by a research psychologist, and applied to a large this book makes a lot of sense. it's about happiness, consciousness, work, relationships, and purpose--and basically, the thesis is that people are happiest when they have clear goals and well-defined perimeters to work within to achieve those goals. sounds a little dry, but I found it both interesting and relevant. as someone who is still working out what my "ideal" career or life model looks like, I enjoyed seeing my typical questions examined by a research psychologist, and applied to a larger arena than just the twenty-somethings. it's not a self-help book; there's none of that suggesting how to improve one's experience by following simple steps. it's more of an academic discussion on how consciousness works, and how people navigate experience. and while it reads like an academic text, it's still very accessible, and I think the ideas presented are likely to be relevant for a wide variety of readers.
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