Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
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Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  15,811 ratings  ·  759 reviews
The world's foremost producer of personal development and motivational audio programs gives you the tools to unleash the secret of peak performance.

Remember the last time that you were so focused, so motivated that you felt at the absolute top of your form -- alert, energized and free of self-consciousness? Chances are you were experiencing flow -- an almost euphoric state...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 13th 1991 by Harper Perennial (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
Rowena
"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
Mark
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
Tomio
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
Jeff
Nov 20, 2011 Jeff marked it as books-i-didn-t-finish
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
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
Safat
ক্রিকেটে এরকম একটা রম্য আছে,২২ গজ পিচের মাঝে একজন ব্যাটসম্যান হলেন নিঃসঙ্গ এক লড়াকু সৈনিক,আর পুরো পৃথিবী তার বিপক্ষে। তার চারপাশে সর্বক্ষণ ঘিরে থাকবে দশজন ফিল্ডার। উইকেটের পেছনে,স্লিপে,শর্টে(মুরালি বা শেন ওয়ার্ন বোলিঙে থাকলে হয়তো উইকেটের পাশেই নাম না জানা আরও অনেক জায়গায় রক্তচোষার মত ছোঁকছোঁক করবে নিষ্ঠুর ফিল্ডাররা।)আর একটু চুলচুক হলেই শাস্তি দেয়ার জন্য আছেন আম্প্যায়াররা। ব্যাটে বল না লেগে কিপারের হাতে গেলেও হয়তো আয়ম্পায়ারের কাছে জোর চিল্লাচিল্লি করে শাস্তি আদায় করে ছাড়বেন ফিল্ডাররা। মাঠে যখন বো...more
Herbie
Jul 28, 2008 Herbie added it
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
Meg
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
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
Layla
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
Rick
The most dense learning can be done near the beginning and reviewed at the end. The middle is a series of examinations of how Flow can be achieved through lot's of different kinds of activities. Understanding flow is like understanding focused attention; it's VERY difficult to describe if you've not experienced before. Mihaly not only describes it well, but claims that it's a practicable, reproducible skill, and goes so far as seem to claim that deep states of religious experience aren't really...more
Sergey
Довольно подробное (читай чрезмерно :)) описание принципа достижения состояния счастья.

Однако,
1. В результате прочтения, появились новые вполне конкретные цели, которые предстоит достичь;
2. Общие ожидания от жизни стали четче;
2. Сегодня утром, по пути на любимую работу, вдыхая свежий воздух и наблюдая родной город, только что обнявшись с женой и детьми, слушая приятный забой, прочитав пару комментариев на свои фото - почувствовал себя абсолютно счастливым :)

Так что - рекомендую.
Alex
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.
Jay Kamaladasa
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
Armine Kharatyan
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 24, 2007 S Kasm rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Nathan Maharaj
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
Dianne
Jul 31, 2007 Dianne rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Will
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
Mahmoud Shehata
I rate this book five stars and a half. Actually it makes me want to go back and unrate every other book I gave 5 stars to. Throughout the book I felt Dr. Mihaly was talking about me. It explained a lot to me why I do certain things in certain ways and why I think this way.
Dr Mihaly is very deep and very analytical keeping in mind every single detail and what might be going through the readers' mind as well. The book is well written, yet better than all the thoughts and concepts in the book left...more
Inese
It is worth reading, but many pages after introduction can be skim read, as there are repetitive examples of the same experiences by different people. but maybe for some it help to get into the topic
Patrick Peterson
Apr 28, 2014 Patrick Peterson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: happiness seekers
Recommended to Patrick by: Marsha Enright and others
Very interesting discussion of the concept of Flow, and how one can bring it more into one's life.

The main book voice is the author, with music and other voices added for variety. The author's voice is quite pleasant and warm. A wonderful and disarming Hungarian accent that posed no problems for me to clearly understand.

The book starts out with a discussion of the difference between pleasure and enjoyment. Fairly subtle, but important differences.

Excellent listing and examples of his 8 elements...more
Michael
Jul 13, 2009 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Setians, Psychologists, Initiates
Recommended to Michael by: ToS RL
"Flow" is a book that discusses on a deeper, more academic level, the same essential subject as "Mastery" by George Leonard. Csikczentmihalyi is a psychologist who asked the question, "why are we always studying people in crisis and trauma, why don't we try to learn about what it is to be happy?" This book is the result. He finds that sustained happiness results from "Flow:" "a state of consciousness so focused that it amounts to absolute absorption in an activity." He finds that people achieve...more
Kate

Flow is a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to absolute absorbtion in an activity.


The quote above, is in essence, what this book is about. Everyone experiences flow from time to time and will recognize it's characteristics: feeling strong, alert, in effortless control, unselfconscious, and at a peak of their abilities. This book reveals how this pleasurable state can, in fact be controlled, and not left to chance, by setting ourselves challenges - tasks that are neither too diff...more
Chris
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
Chuck
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's "Flow" has been on my 'to-read' list for quite a number of years. And I am happy to say that I have finally had the opportunity to read it.

The book starts out about the meaning of life and happiness. The author begins with the standard argument that the universe is essentially uncaring about us and our feelings; And that our feelings are our responsibility. After some discussion, he concludes that one form of meaning and happiness is "Flow".

"Flow" is defined as a state...more
Nick
After coming across Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's intimidating and intriguing name several times on the Internets (in particular on Wikipedia) I decided it was finally time to tackle one of his books.

Things I liked:
-Stories and anecdotes from Csikszentmihalyi's research subjects. Csikszentmihalyi has clearly met a large number of fantastically awesome people in the course of his research on 'flow' and he does a pretty good job of weaving their experiences into the framework of his book.
-Appeals to...more
King
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
Jimmy
It's not a self help book. But it is a very humane science book that takes concepts and discoveries and relates it back to what it is we care about the most: our own happiness. It seems like a rather ambitious goal for a scientist to tackle (I would think philosophy or religion would have been an easier angle) but this book is surprisingly interesting and insightful. It doesn't give you step by step instructions on improving your life, but if you understand the concepts behind what makes us happ...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.” 36 likes
“Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person's skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.” 32 likes
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