Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Apr 28, 2018 - 456 pages
More than anything else, this book is an exploration of happiness. What makes us happy? How can we live a fulfilling life? These are no simple questions to ask, but author Csikszentmihalyi makes a compelling and clear argument as to how happiness can be obtained (in passing, he even gives simple explanations for consciousness and the meaning of life!).In doing so, the author touches on a lot of principles from ancient philosophies and religions, such as Stoicism and Buddhism. Yet the approach for a happy life set out in Flow is based upon scientific research, as opposed to rules and guidelines obtained from ancient wisdom. Not that there's anything wrong with ancient wisdom, but it's all the more impressive to see modern guidelines to happiness based on scientific research.So what does it come down to? On the one hand, happiness is not a destination where you arrive, but a condition that needs to be cultivated. It's affected by the information we let into our thoughts and the way we seek happiness. Csikszentmihalyi makes a clear distinction between pleasure seeking and enjoyment, where pleasure is externally focused and hence a temporary fix for happiness, while true enjoyment comes from within and is sustainable.On the other hand, it depends on how we engage in activities, and this is where flow enters the scene: the research shows surprisingly few moments of happiness occur when we're idle. While engaged in work, in creating something, in pursuit of some kind of goal, stretching our abilities to their limits, those are the moments when most of us experience true happiness. This is when we're in a state of flow.Paradoxically, this means we often feel happier when working than when engaged in what most people consider leisure time: watching TV, getting drunk, lying on a beach for a week. Flow provides a solution: when the principles are understood, many activities can be turned into rewarding experiences that contribute to our happiness, and who would say no to that?

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About the author (2018)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced "ME-high CHICK-sent-me-high-ee) is a professor and former chairman of the Department of English at the University of Chicago. His writings have focused on models of enjoyment and how various people access their creative potential. The idea of creative potential, which Csikszentmihalyi terms "flow" has become increasingly popular in the public sector. His 1993 book, Flow, inspired Jimmy Johnson then coach of the World Champion Dallas Cowboys, and was the subject of a feature story during that year's Super Bowl television broadcast. His ideas have also been touted by President Clinton, who called Csikszentmihalyi one of his favorite authors, Newt Gingrich, who put his work on the reading list for a political planning committee, and corporations and cultural institutions, such as Volvo in Sweden and the Chicago Park District. He has published articles in a variety of magazines, including Psychology Today, The New York Times, Omni, and Wired and has made appearances on television in the U.S. and Europe. Csikszentmihalyi currently serves on boards and commissions for the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education, and the Social Science Research Council. He has held visiting professorships at universities in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Italy, and Finland. He received the1990 NRPA National Research (Roosevelt) Award, in addition to two Senior Fulbright Fellowships. Besides Flow, he has also written Beyond Boredom and Anxiety and Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, in which he applies his "flow" theory to various inventors, scientists, and artists to determine how and why they achieve "flow.

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