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Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  3,292 Ratings  ·  148 Reviews

Creativity is about capturing those moments that make life worth living. The author's objective is to offer an understanding of what leads to these moments, be it the excitement of the artist at the easel or the scientist in the lab, so that knowledge can be used to enrich people's lives. Drawing on 100 interviews with exceptional people, from biologists and physicists to

Kindle Edition, 466 pages
Published (first published 1996)
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Mike Morris Yes. I got an english hardcover from my local library.
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Jul 28, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good if not a great book. Its greatest strength lies in the thesis introduced early on and supported throughout that the kind of creativity that leaves a trace in the cultural matrix rests not in the personal creativity of the individual, but in what Csikszentmihalyi tags the “systems approach “ to creativity. To have any effect, a creative idea must be couched in terms that are understandable to others, pass muster with the experts in the field (i.e. the gatekeepers to the domain), a ...more
Sep 30, 2013 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 20, 2014 Johnny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Creativity isn’t really a “how-to” book. Rather, it is an exploration of outstanding individuals who have impacted those around them such that they have influenced significant change within or understanding of the endeavors in which they work. It is not a quantitative investigation of those outstanding individuals, but a qualitative consideration of similarities and dissimilarities between those generally thought to be “genius” or “innovative.”

Csikszentmihalyi considers interdisciplinary enviro
Dec 30, 2007 Stephbencin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If and when I begin my Oprah-esque empire, in addition to constantly touting Fizzy Lizzy's (best drink ever!!!) I will also employ this brilliant man as my guru. Fortunately for my fan base, this man is an actually intellectual who has devoted himself to the study of psychology and not some quack that believes if you just imagine that you have a refrigerator with a DVD player, one will materialize. Also, Csikszentmihali never did a commercial.
May 09, 2011 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe this is a seminal book for anyone interested in the psychology of the creative process.

I first read Creativity in 1998-1999 and enjoyed it then, but recently picked it up again to take on a trip with me. This time, some 11 years later and after a major career change, the books means so much more to me. I think that is because the first time I read it, I was looking for ways to bring more creativity into my life. Now, after a few years of focusing on art as my career, the content deepl
Troy Blackford
Sep 24, 2015 Troy Blackford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd give this book six stars, if I could. This is a sprawling and masterful objective analysis of input from dozens of luminaries in various fields and domains, and Csikszentmihalyi assesses the commonalities, differences, and important disparities between them. No matter what kind of a life you are trying to lead, you can gain a lot of useful insight from the material covered here. What makes this such an important book is the way that Csikszentmihalyi tries to be objective and scientific about ...more
Brian Clegg
With a name that will always be associated with the concept of 'flow', Mihaly Csiksgentmihalyi was a likely choice for a book giving a scientific view of creativity. The way this has been achieved is primarily to identify a large number of people that Csiksgentmihalyi considered highly creative and to ask them if they will be interviewed. There are a number of problems with this approach - would Einstein have said yes, for instance? But there is no doubt that the popular psychologist is able to ...more
Mar 12, 2016 KAUSHIK rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book describes the character traits of 'creative' people, and tries to extrapolate common character traits and habits of creative individuals. Some of the 'creative' individuals interviewed are leading pioneers in their field, these include several Nobel laureate scientists.
The author discusses creativity in the context of 'flow', the state where we become one with the process of creation.
The book is structured so that there are actual interview snippets of creative individuals interspersed
John Orman
Apr 04, 2014 John Orman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mihaly's book "Flow" told us that the way to happiness involves mindful challenges.

The author studied creative people, and tells us what he found. But more importantly for the reader, he gives us his ideas for making our lives as creative as his interviewees.

10 Dimensions of Creativity

Physical Energy
Playfulness & Discipline
Fantasy & Reality
Extrovert & Introvert
Humble & Proud
Escape Rigid Gender Role Stereotyping
Traditional & Rebellious
Suffering and Enjoyment

Aug 16, 2016 Untitled rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
"This book which attempts to bring together 30 years of research on how creative people live and work is an effort to make more understandable the mysterious process by which men and women come up with new ideas and new things."

What makes people creative? that's his question that he wants to answer. And at the same time he wants creativity that makes the change. He is looking at it from the psychology side. The scientific approach he took made it strong for me.

He mentioned all the things that h
If taken as a collection of anecdotes from interviews with well-recognized elderly 'creative' persons of western european descent who generally were somehow affected by World War II with interspersed observations, Creativity provides several interesting insights that one could incorporate into any practice that has some kind of public recognition as a discipline (i.e. western poetry, painting, music, science, not dinosaur fart impersonation or whatever): 1) The realization that your best ideas g ...more
Matt Mackey
Nov 21, 2008 Matt Mackey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone and anyone.
Quite the intriguing read.

If you care at all about creativity (and you should), this book is at least worth flipping through.

A lot of what I got from the book can be surmised from chapter titles and skimming through reading topic sentences. It often reads like something of a textbook--it's not a narrative, but draws upon interviews with hundreds of creative individuals (including nobel prize winners, CEOs, writers, poets, and more), offering insights based on trends and with copious excerpts fro
May 21, 2013 Ruby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though it took me a couple of chapters to get used to the author's tone, I have found the book to be very enjoyable. It provides a definition of creativity that I've never thought about before, that includes not only the creative person, but also the community/specialists whose recognition are needed for the creativity to be valid.

The book is very well organized. I like how it breaks creativity and the factors involved in it down into subtopics and offers extensive analysis of each. The book tal
Kate Arms
This is one of the classic books on creativity and it is worth reading, but is has some fundamental flaws. The bulk of the book is based on research into people whose creative contributions to their fields created paradigm shifts. In fact, Creativity with a capital c is defined for the purposes of the book as creating paradigm shifts. The stories of individual people and the analysis of what contributed to their success are fascinating if erudite.

The final chapter makes a claim that creativity
Zhi Ling Tan
with all respect to the author, i felt that the study of creative people which formed the basis of this book wasn't all that impressive. the conclusions on the dialectic poles in creative people's personalities sounded especially fuzzy to me. while the author seemed to suggest that creativity entails possessing dual personalities, what i personally perceived was that it was simply a snapshot of the characteristics of the general population which naturally comprises the two extremes. simply put, ...more
Jun 27, 2016 Shane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent overview of a difficult topic. However, this comes off as more of a philosophical exploration than something more concrete. The focus is more on the cultural environment that can promote creativity than on individual creativity. Contradiction is the norm. Both good and poor childhoods can lead to creativity. Mostly, avoid the comfortable middle. Explore outside your area of focus, but also become an expert in your area of focus. Be open, but also focused and immersed. Luck matters, ...more
Michael Tapp
Jun 18, 2016 Michael Tapp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow really blew my mind and I have been eager to read Creativity for a long time. This is not a “How to be Creative” book. This book examines the psychology of creativity and reads almost like a textbook. It’s not an easy read but there are some valuable takeaways for people from any background who want to think more creatively. I was also surprised that he focused more on creative people in the sciences than the arts. If you are going to read one of Csikszentmihalyi’s books ...more
Nov 26, 2014 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
If you're looking for a prescriptive self-help book on developing your creativity, this might not be the book for you. Csikszentmihalyi conducts a survey on several creative individuals of extraordinary renown (I'm talking nobel prize winners here) and records their answers. The advice offered is quite varied and is meant to be pondered over by the reader. Csikszentmihalyi remains as objective as he possibly can. If you enjoyed Flow you'll probably like this one too, although Flow is easily the ...more
Alex Devero
Dec 03, 2015 Alex Devero rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Creativity may seem an elusive concept, but as a process it can be broken down into certain steps. Creativity usually happens in a system that contains a domain, a field and a person. Creative people pull inspiration from life; they work in a “flow” state and even stay creative far into old age. Importantly, the survival of the human race depends on creativity, so we as a society need to encourage its development. So work to cultivate creativity every day!
Vacen Taylor
May 16, 2012 Vacen Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I enjoyed this book enormously. I would easily recommend this book to any person who is either creative or just intrigued by the arts. Why? Because it reminds us all that the possibility of happiness is a mindful challenge. The book delves into the domain of the creative process. A work of wonder!

I quote from the book: "Creative persons differ from one another in a variety of ways, but in one respect they are unanimous: The all love what they do" Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Alex Woods
Aug 12, 2014 Alex Woods rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is pretty good, although it is not concise. I am much more interested in the theoretical concepts behind creativity, and how to become more creative myself. This book did give me that information, but it also included maybe 60 to 100 anecdotes.

I do recommend this book if you're looking to become more creative, but I would probably just tell you to read certain chapters.
Amanda Grossman
Oct 29, 2007 Amanda Grossman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a heavier read, but absolutely wonderful and insightful about the lives of creative people. The author interviewed some of the most creative people of our time, and broke up the book into chapters of discussions about the creative process, domains, culture, etc., adding in bits and pieces from these people.
Oct 02, 2010 Kevin is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: set-aside
Another great book by the Hungarian-American prof of positive psychology whose name is too hard to remember and write. Cited in Wikipedia as one of the world's leading experts on the social and psychological features of happiness and creativity, this book has Mihaly describing the relationship between his idea of flow and the creation of new ideas. Another page-turner.
Charlotte  Wrenn
Dec 10, 2012 Charlotte Wrenn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: artists, scientists, curious people
Recommended to Charlotte by: self
Shelves: favorites
I could not put this book down. I am an artist, and the interviews with other creative people fascinated me. The book is highly accessible, full of great research, and actually changed me. I marked it up for reference like I usually do so I can refer back to important parts but I think I may read the entire book again it was so good. Highly recommend.
Dec 04, 2015 Sweta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fantastic! While this book talks about the most creative individuals in history and their remarkable achievements, its intention was to bring about a creative revolution within its readers. It makes the readers reflect on their lives and ask themselves a crucial question: how we can make our lives more creative and live more fully?
Mar 15, 2008 Cydh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really changed the way I think. It is an active process and I learned to recognize my sparks and follow them. It makes me notice connections in my life more. It is heavy and technical in spots, but this is needed for a complete understanding. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve their ability to be present and in the moment.
Steve Harper
Jan 22, 2009 Steve Harper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: CJ Romberger
Recommended to Steve by: Business Week
This was an excellent read. I found the very detailed and robust examples to be very enlightening and full of useful ideas. I would highly recommend this book - though will warn you that it is a somewhat slow read because of the jam-packed information it contains.

I really enjoyed it though and know I will use it as a reference book many times in the future.
I really liked his other book, Flow so I was kinda disappointed by this book. It doesn't really come to any useful conclusion about creative individuals, only debunking common misconceptions about them.
Read this gem in college and enjoyed it immensely. It has been such a long time, however, I have sadly forgotten much other than the bare bone basics. Will have to rummage through my old books and see if I still have it. Would love a refresher.
Mark Dykeman
Jul 10, 2010 Mark Dykeman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good, very important book but, to be honest, I found it difficult to finish. Czikzentmihalyi's style is much better than some academic writer's but it's a bit long and plodding.

Still, very important book and worth checking out.
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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
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“All our contemporaries...had some big ideology to live for. Everybody thought he had to either fight in Spain or die for something else, and most of us had to be in prison for one reason or another. And then at the end it turns out that none of these great ideologies was worth your sacrificing anything for. Even doing personal good is very difficult to be absolutely sure about. It's very difficult to know exactly whether to live for an ideology or even to live for doing good. But there cannot be anything wrong in making a pot, I'll tell you. When making a pot you can't bring any evil into the world. - Eva Zeisel, ceramist.” 7 likes
“I mean, we’re only here for a short while. And I think it’s such a lucky accident, having been born, that we’re almost obliged to pay attention. In some ways, this is getting far afield. I mean, we are—as far as we know—the only part of the universe that’s self-conscious. We could even be the universe’s form of consciousness.” 5 likes
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