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Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  31,701 Ratings  ·  1,465 Reviews
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 demonst ...more
Paperback, 303 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1990)
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Andy Mitchell
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 altered

5 elements of happy teenagers' growing up:

1. clarity
2. centering: pare
...more
Meg
Sep 18, 2009 Meg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Rowena
Nov 13, 2013 Rowena rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
"While humankind collectively has increased its material powers a thousandfold, it has not advanced very far in terms of improving the content of experience."- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow

I found this book very intriguing. 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
...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

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,
...more
Nathan Maharaj
Jul 14, 2014 Nathan Maharaj rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
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
...more
Mark
Aug 21, 2007 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
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 ...more
Jeff
Nov 13, 2011 Jeff marked it as books-i-didn-t-finish  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Zelda
Jun 12, 2013 Zelda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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 ...more
Tomio
May 01, 2009 Tomio rated it liked it
Shelves: poppsych
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 ...more
Hadrian
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.
Herbie
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 ...more
Saeed
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
...more
Alex
Jun 17, 2007 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
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.
Layla
Jan 30, 2008 Layla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-improvement
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 ...more
Will
Feb 07, 2010 Will rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Karan Bajaj
Apr 06, 2015 Karan Bajaj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Guillaume
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
...more
Grant
Mar 11, 2011 Grant rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Chris
Feb 04, 2013 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
King
Feb 28, 2011 King rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Mario Tomic
Jul 10, 2013 Mario Tomic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Amir
Oct 18, 2015 Amir rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sergey Khomyuk
Jan 02, 2016 Sergey Khomyuk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-development
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
...more
Jay Kamaladasa
Aug 18, 2013 Jay Kamaladasa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
D
Jul 10, 2007 D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: just about anyone
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
...more
Katherine Addison
Apr 22, 2017 Katherine Addison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: creativity
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
...more
Mohammad
Dec 07, 2016 Mohammad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
اسم کتاب توی فارسی قابل ترجمه نیست. «جریان؛ روانشناسی تجربه بهینه» حتا اون مفهوم «فلو» که منظورش هست هم توی فرهنگ ما زیاد مورد اشاره واقع نشده. خود انگلیسی زبانها عبارتهای مختلفی برای توصیفش دارن. شاید بهترین اونها این عبارت «being in the zone» باشه.
بحث شادی درونی و خوشبختی و رضایت خاطر و اینهاست. چطور میشه که افراد به بیشترین حد رضایتمندی از زندگی خودشون میرسن. چه چیزهایی باعث میشه تا فعالیتهای روزانه ما تبدیل به تجربههای بهینه و رضایتبخش تبدیل بشن.
احساسی که ما نسبت به خودمون داریم و میزان رضای
...more
Armine Mamikonian
May 22, 2013 Armine Mamikonian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Поток М. Чиксентмихаи решила прочитать по рекомендации Рубена Варданаяна (Список рекомендаций Р. Варданяна можер найти здесь). Для меня книга была интересна тем, что автор структурировал очень правильные и важные мысли, c которыми тяжело не согласится. В то же время в книге я не нашла ответов на вопросы, которые больше всего меня интересовали Как прийти к состоянию потока? «Как контролировать сознание? Как упорядочивать его, чтобы получить радость? Как наполнить жизнь смыслом?»… Еще один недоста ...more
S Kasm
Mar 23, 2007 S Kasm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Inspiration
Flow is that "zone" that we all strive to achieve in any exercise that we undertake. In a state of "Flow," your creativity is un-inhibited and you are completely enraptured in the "here and now" -- with notions of time and space completely being altered in your consciousness. For example, if you're an artist, classical musician, a novelist, a worl-class surgeon, or even a sports-enthusiast of any kind -- then you'll appreciate Flow and will relate to the theories advanced in this incredibly expa ...more
Iiro Korhonen
Hyvä kirja! Sisältää kattavaa ja melko perusteellista tarkastelua Csikszenmihalyin tutkimasta flow-ilmiöstä, eli tietoisuuden tilasta, jossa voidaan saavuttaa nk. "optimaalinen kokemus". Kirjan ehdottomana plussana koin asiantuntevan, tieteellisen otteen, joka heijasti mielestäni hyvin Csikszentmihalyin laajaa asiantuntemusta ilmiöön. Itselläni kirja herätti paljon ajatuksia mm. siitä miten flow:ta voidaan soveltaa yhteiskunnassa tai organisaatioissa työnteon ja elämän mielekkyyden kokemusten li ...more
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A Hungarian psychology professor, who emigrated to the United States at the age of 22. Now at Claremont Graduate University, he is the former head of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago and of the department of sociology and anthropology at Lake Forest College.

He is noted for both his work in the study of happiness and creativity and also for his notoriously difficult name, i
...more
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“Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.” 116 likes
“To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself. She has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances.” 96 likes
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