Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention
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Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,959 ratings  ·  93 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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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
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.
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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...more
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...more
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
Vacen Taylor

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
Eric Rickey
May 24, 2014 Eric Rickey marked it as to-read-more-if  ·  review of another edition
This book takes a bit of effort to slog through. However, there seem to be some interesting parts. I find the research, and reporting on the research, to be valuable. Some of the authors conclusions or over-laborious musings go on a bit too long.

Here are some parts that intrigue me so far:

Our respondents unanimously agree that it is important to let problems simmer below the threshold of consciousness for a time. One of the most eloquent accounts of the importance of this stage comes again from...more
Charlotte Hutson Wrenn
Dec 10, 2012 Charlotte Hutson Wrenn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: artists, scientists, curious people
Recommended to Charlotte Hutson 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.
Michael Brady
Fortunately Csikszentmihalyi is easier to understand than his name is to pronounce. I'm tempted to recommend this book but I think I'll try his book on Flow first.
Demasiado extenso. El autor se excede con la transcripción de las entrevistas
John Orman
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

Matt Mackey
Nov 21, 2008 Matt Mackey rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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...more
An extremely thought intriguing read. Consists of a compact compilation of research results with corroborated hypotheses on the subject of creativity, in which the author has spent, a course of 30 years studying in - to coin his trademark, flow.
- The characterization of different fundamental forms of creativity
- Personal creativity
- Brilliance
- Creativity [With the capital C]
- The incorporation of the systems approach into the processes of how creative ideas are born and released into socie...more
Mahmoud Shehata
This is the second of Dr. Mihaly's books that I've read. So i'll try to review him as an author in the shadow of both books; not only this book.

When it comes to knowledge and science there is no doubt he is one of the best out there. In both books that I've read (FLOW & Creativity) the way he deduces conclusions and observations from his interviews with candidates is quite amazing. I like that he doesn't start by stories about his candidates, but starts by concluding the findings of the rese...more
2 stars="it was ok"

I was interested in this book at first, but Csikszentmihalyi believes your work has to go thru the acceptance of those already in the field and contribute to the culture in order to be considered "creative." I was thinking, "I don't think I agree but I'll keep reading. . .because I have to. For class." Then I felt annoyed that I had to read about creative men who couldn't bother with mundane life responsibility stuff, gender role stuff, and I was like, "Should I skim this? ugh...more
This work attempts to some degree to characterize creativity based on interviews with creative individuals. I think some of the definitions, including that of creativity, were limiting, but I guess the author chose to do it to make his points. For example, the author says that an artist is not "Creative" unless the field recognizes the artist as such, and that an artist can easily be "Creative" during the Renaissance but not now due to changes in artistic opinion. I just didn't care for that emp...more
Stig E.

The book is accessible and at times very interesting when delving into the traits and behaviours that make creative people creative. When it looks for the backgrounds and root causes for people's creativity it reaches conclusions too fast and heads for the nearest plausible narrative. When the author moves out of his field of study to put creativity in greater context he is also on thin ice. The worst exampple being when he claims that systemic thinkers (sociologists, environmentalists etc) have...more
Chris Fitzgerald
An excellent study of the habits of some of the world's most creative people from the second half of the 20th century, this book strikes a remarkable balance between reporting commonalities in the experiences of others and offering possible pathways to explore for the reader. While it focuses on the achievements of people whose life work is at the forefront of their fields, the conclusions drawn are usually applicable to everyday life and more basic spheres of achievement. While I normally disda...more
Alex Woods
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.
Gilang Danu
In general, this is a very good book, though there's this one point that bugs me the most: the author reduces creative people into some kind of one-trick pony, people who are very well-versed and competent at their own fields of expertise but lack knowledge and skill at other things. While the logic is sound (to be some kind of expert, after all, you need to spend your whole life practicing and honing a very specific skill set -- and this leaves you with very small time to develop another intere...more
Torben Rasmussen
Mihaly's book on creativity is certainly an original attempt at improving the understanding of creativity -- "... to bring into existence something genuinely new that is valued enough to be added to the culture"
Based on interviews of more than 90 renowned creative individuals there is substance and weight to the conclusions presented.
In some chapters the book it feels like the work relies too much on citing passages of the interview. More work could have gone into distilling the information an...more
Csikszentmihalyi presents some very interesting ways of thinking about creativity, but mostly stays with what he call the Big C work - creative efforts that sort of change the world rather than the small c - everyday creativity. Good background read. Bios of "creative types" were a little tedious and the last chapter seemed a bit trite, but overall very worthwhile reading for anyone who believe creativity to be an important asset.
I finished this tonight, the first of many books I'm reading for my last school paper. I've wanted to read a book by Csikszentmihalyi for a long time, and I don't know if this is the one I'd like best, but it's okay.

Although I'm currently looking at phronesis and concrete thinking, this book added unrelated things to study next to my list: unpredictability in molecules, principle of sanctuary, tumor biology. Basically more of the science stuff.

And it made me very happy to read that people put in...more
This is a very interesting and well considered look at the common trends of creative lives. Written as the summation of a huge body of interviews and study, this work provides the reader with a look at some of the traits that do and do not define the creative individual. While it cannot directly tell us how to be more creative, it does provide some good practices at the end that can definitely help align the reader to a more creative lifestyle. Most importantly, it demonstrates how people have f...more
Lots of good insights, but also lots of frustrating generalities, and many unsuccessful attempts at eloquence - for example:

"As we have seen, creative individuals seem to have relatively complex personalities. Neither the centrifugal nor the centripetal force prevails--they are able to keep in balance the contrary tendencies that make some people turn inward until each becomes a hard shell, and others fly outward at random" (362-3). Lets be honest - what the hell does that mean.

I enjoyed the f...more
brian dean
I studied the legendary Csikszentmihalyi's works as a university student and I had wondered how his reputation would hold up. His writing is clear and beautiful, reminding of clearest of science writers. Ah, that was meant as a compliment.

Csikszentmihalyi is mostly interested in capital 'C' creativity or in works of genius. How did geniuses grow and develop their talent? In the main, his book details that the lives and childhood experiences of people destined to be geniuses are remarkable divers...more
Linda Hollingsworth
This was sometimes hard going and it should be understood that it is written from the professional viewpoint of a psychologist applying observations and related concepts in a social engineering type of perspective. I was reading it to gain more understanding about the breadth which individuals bring to the process of creativity, a subject in which I've long been interested from the perspective of an artist and writer. I definitely respected some of the insights, but I wasn't receptive to this ty...more
I used to own this book, but gave it away without reading past the introduction. Had to buy the book again for a class and wish I had read past the introduction before now. Not so I could complete my assignment faster, but because it is a really good discussion of creativity and what makes a person creative.
I wanted to give the book 5 stars but then the authors said some really racist and sexist things. Come on, the book was written in the 90s not the 60s or 70s. No excuse for writing with that...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
More about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi...
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“In other words, if Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy showed more than their fair share of pathology it was due less to the requirements of their creative work than to the personal sufferings caused by the unhealthy conditions of a Russian society nearing collapse. If so many American poets and playwrights committed suicide or ended up addicted to drugs and alcohol it was not their creativity that did it but an artistic scene that promised much, gave few rewards and left nine out of ten artists neglected if not ignored.” 2 likes
“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.” 1 likes
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