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“Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“If you are interested in something, you will focus on it, and if you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it. Many of the things we find interesting are not so by nature, but because we took the trouble of paying attention to them.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life
“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.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“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.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“A joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times—although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we
make happen. For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last blockon a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person's capacity to act.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“If one has failed to develop curiosity and interest in the early years, it is a good idea to acquire them now, before it is too late to improve the quality of life.
To do so is fairly easy in principle, but more difficult in practice. Yet it is sure worth trying. The first step is to develop the habit of doing whatever needs to be done with concentrated attention, with skill rather than inertia. Even the most routine tasks, like washing dishes, dressing, or mowing the lawn become more rewarding if we approach them with the care it would take to make a work of art. The next step is to transfer some psychic energy each day from tasks that we don’t like doing, or from passive leisure, into something we never did before, or something we enjoy doing but don’t do often enough because it seems too much trouble. There are literally millions of potentially interesting things in the world to see, to do, to learn about. But they don’t become actually interesting until we devote attention to them.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life
“...It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“The task is to learn how to enjoy everyday life without diminishing other people's chances to enjoy theirs.”
Csikszentmihaly
tags: flow, p70
“Of all the virtues we can learn no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness
“It is by being fully involved with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by trying to look for it directly.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“Few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows exactly what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it. "He who desires but acts not," wrote Blake with his accustomed vigor, "Breeds pestilence.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“the self expands through acts of self forgetfulness.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“It is better to look suffering straight in the eye, acknowledge and respect it’s presence, and then get busy as soon as possible focusing on things we choose to focus on.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“On the job people feel skillful and challenged, and therefore feel more happy, strong, creative, and satisfied. In their free time people feel that there is generally not much to do and their skills are not being used, and therefore they tend to feel more sad, weak, dull, and dissatisfied. Yet they would like to work less and spend more time in leisure.

What does this contradictory pattern mean? There are several possible explanations, but one conclusion seems inevitable: when it comes to work, people do not heed the evidence of their senses. They disregard the quality of immediate experience, and base their motivation instead on the strongly rooted cultural stereotype of what work is supposed to be like. They think of it as an imposition, a constraint, an infringement of their freedom, and therefore something to be avoided as much as possible.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“The psychic entropy peculiar to the human condition involves seeing more to do than one can actually accomplish and feeling able to accomplish more than what conditions allow.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“The mystique of rock climbing is climbing; you get to the top of a rock glad it’s over but really wish it would go on forever. The justification of climbing is climbing, like the justification of poetry is writing; you don’t conquer anything except things in yourself…. The act of writing justifies poetry. Climbing is the same: recognizing that you are a flow. The purpose of the flow is to keep on flowing, not looking for a peak or utopia but staying in the flow. It is not a moving up but a continuous flowing; you move up to keep the flow going. There is no possible reason for climbing except the climbing itself; it is a self-communication.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow
“...success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue...as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“These examples suggest what one needs to learn to control attention. In principle any skill or discipline one can master on one’s own will serve: meditation and prayer if one is so inclined; exercise, aerobics, martial arts for those who prefer concentrating on physical skills. Any specialization or expertise that one finds enjoyable and where one can improve one’s knowledge over time. The important thing, however, is the attitude toward these disciplines. If one prays in order to be holy, or exercises to develop strong pectoral muscles, or learns to be knowledgeable, then a great deal of the benefit is lost. The important thing is to enjoy the activity for its own sake, and to know that what matters is not the result, but the control one is acquiring over one’s attention.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life
“Pain and pleasure occur in consciousness and exist only there”
Csikszentmihaly
tags: flow, p-19
“It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were. When we choose a goal and invest ourselves in it to the limits of concentration, whatever we do will be enjoyable. And once we have tasted this joy, we will redouble our efforts to taste it again. This is the way the self grows.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“Few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows exactly what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“It is not the skills we actually have that determine how we feel but the ones we think we have.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“But it is impossible to enjoy a tennis game, a book, or a conversation unless attention is fully concentrated on the activity.”
Csikszentmihaly
tags: flow, p46
“Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we use this energy. Memories, thoughts and feelings are all shaped by how use it. And it is an energy under control, to do with as we please; hence attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
“It is how we choose what we do, and how we approach it, that will determine whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life
“Repression is not the way to virtue. When people restrain themselves out of fear, their lives are by necessity diminished. Only through freely chosen discipline can life be enjoyed and still kept within the bounds of reason.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“it's a wise parent who allows her children to give up the things of childhood in their own time.”
Mihaly Csikszentnihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

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