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Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life
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Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  4,224 ratings  ·  327 reviews
From one of the pioneers of the scientific study of happiness, an indispensable guide to living your best life.

What makes a good life? Is it money? An important job? Leisure time? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi believes our obsessive focus on such measures has led us astray. Work fills our days with anxiety and pressure, so that during our free time, we tend to live in boredom,
Paperback, 181 pages
Published April 6th 1998 by Basic Books (first published 1995)
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Dec 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology, science
Finding Flow is a more engaging and practical view of the ideas Csikzentmihalyi introduces in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Definitely treading the fine line between good general psychology book and self-help. When I'm feeling in a bit of an existential funk, it's nice to pick this book up and become inspired by the stories and research on 'flow'. It reminds me of what's important to a good life: engagement and challenge that can make time seem to melt away.

Dec 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life, inspiration
This book is about gratifying work, which is the basis for a truly satisfying life. I've heard most of these ideas before, and experienced them firsthand during an intensive writing retreat I set up for myself, but this spells out how it works in theory and detail.

High points:

- People feel good when they do something they want to do, bad when they do something they think they have to do, and worst when they do something because they can't think of anything else to do. Being goalless or direction
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book skips over any sort of dive into a convincing operational definition of flow. In that respect, if this is all you read about "flow" it feels like there's something missing. I'd suggest starting with a quick pre-reading of a short introduction on the subject - The Handbook of Competence Motivation, Chapter 32 (11 pages). It's not technically free, but (hint hint) a little google search revealed to me that many academics are not so careful about posting PDFs of it in a secure fashion... ...more
Laura Noggle
Flows well.

“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.”

I'll be honest—I thought I was reading Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. This one seems to be a follow up and is shorter than Mihaly's first book on Flow.

Still enjoyable, yet looking forward to the extended version.

“To pursue mental operations to any depth, a person has to learn to concentrate attentio
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A quick, yet informative read on the psychology behind "Flow," or being in a focused state where one is immersed in a rewarding pursuit, which is a more quantifiable and desirable state than the generic and often fleeting state we call "happiness."

This book also offered interesting insights into achieving the desired "Flow" in relationships and family units. It confirmed some of my rationale for why being an entrepreneur is extremely fulfilling at times, and gave practical suggestions for how to
Bryan Tanner
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
What is Flow?
In positive psychology, FLOW, a.k.a. "the zone," is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one's sense of space and time.

8 Characteristics of Flow:
1. confront challenging but completable tasks
2. concentration
3. clear goals
4. immediate feedb
Bree Riley
Jul 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
Ok I'm calling it. P. 89 and that's as far as I'm going.

I picked this up because I wanted to learn more about the psychological concept of flow. Halfway through and I feel like I have the same level of knowledge on the subject. (I mean. Maybe the enlightenment lies in the second half of this book but I'm not betting on it).

I wanted to know (in more depth) --
what is flow? and
what causes flow /how does someone achieve flow?

(the first half) of this book feels like a side tangent that is possibly r
Jun 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Finding Flow had all the makings of an amazing read. It had the inspiring psychological phenomenon, the self-help practicality, and a sturdy foundation of scientific research. But somewhere in the mix, Finding Flow falls short in my book. (a book within a book; literary infinity shot anyone?) Do not get me wrong, the phenomenon of “Flow State“ is fascinating and Mihaly is indeed the leading expert on it. Reading about it did inspire me to think about my life in different terms and to apply some ...more
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Those who liked Flow
I planned to take notes as I read. However, as I progress through the book I realized the information supported, if not duplicated, what I had read in Csikszenmihalyi’s Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Most of the writing in this book offered very little new information. Taking notes wasn’t worth the time.

The end of the book included writing about our place in the big picture of all people, and I don’t remember that from the original book.

It is interesting that we can’t be completely
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Main message: don't be lazy and sit in front of the TV all day--be involved with life. Live. Be engaged with what you do, and do things that you like. I read this a chunk at a time, so it took forever, but I enjoyed thinking about the ideas presented.

Interesting thoughts on work and leisure time: we don't know how to handle our leisure time (an idea I find intriguing) and even in the most mundane job we can still be fulfilled.

"Contemporary life, however, is not very suitable for sustaining frie
Jim Razinha
May 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
The more I read about psychology, the more I wonder how people can't smell the snake oil. I'm in a management development program and Csikszentmihalyi's work was recommended. Perhaps I got the wrong one. This was certainly a load of rubbish.

Opinions as fact, conclusions tailored to support the thesis, odd references to ESP and spirituality, the only thing I can recommend is he has a really cool name.

I pulled the thread on a few of the topics and felt my skin crawl reading up on "psychic entrop
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Certainly interesting, somewhat helpful and a bit dated. Not exactly what I was looking for- which I realize now, is something a bit more practical. I'm also not entirely sure what to make of this concept of 'psychic energy' Csikszentmihalyi keeps talking about. Maybe I should have gone with his first book... Still, it was 5 hours well spent.

"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
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
What do you choose to invest your physic energy in? Those who find fulfillment in everyday life have learned how to achieve Flow independent of the task performed.

What one focuses on-be it a future goal or past trauma can shape the thoughts that create happiness. The less one focuses on self/ego the more feelings of happiness or flow they can find.

Flow also is in harmony with the universe. One who finds pleasure in harming others or through negative worldly acts ultimately doesn’t truly have flo
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
In which Csikszentmihalyi aims to give us a sort of practical application of his seminal book/theory Flow so it can be used by the people who baulked at the scientific underpinning of that 1990 work. In part I can understand this: I have actually stopped recommending Flow to people, because I have had quite a few people pike out on it early because it's not written in what we might term "self-help" style. They are looking for a different type of book, although the information imparted within is ...more
Chris Webber
Nov 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who finds satisfaction in life to be elusive
Shelves: philosophy
I love this book. Along similar lines of the books Stumbling on Happiness and The Happiness Hypothesis, Finding Flow describes tools that contribute to a paradigm shift that help improve quality of life. Happiness is a loaded word, coming with all sorts of connotations depending on who is defining it. Religion likes to put a monopoly on what they feel is the formula to happiness. Motivational and health gurus contribute another formula. Stripped of bias' this book gets to the common sense basics ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
I couldn't even make it through this book. A lot of text is spent stating the obvious; humans enjoy participating in activity with visible results. What an elitist to boot!
Gabrielle Jarrett
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Csikszentmihalyi and his books on Flow (1990) have been on my to-read list for decades. Finding Flow was published in 1997. Considering the dates, he does a good job of including as many women as are available in his research. Flow is an energetic state we experience when our thoughts, feelings, and actions are in harmony. It's a source of psychic energy in that flow focuses attention and motivates action. He refers to withdrawing one's energy from flow the diabolical weakening of the emerging c ...more
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was ALL over the place. I'm so confused about the main point. and it made so many points - some were interesting - some were a reach - that I don't think I can adequately review it even.

Just....a lot.
Timothy Ball
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tim-s-shelf
"The roots of interpersonal conflict are often an excessive concern for oneself, and an inability to pay attention to the needs of others. It is sad to see how often people ruin a relationship because they refuse to recognize that they could serve their own interests best by helping others achieve theirs. "
Dec 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psychology
Save yourself 2 hours and $14 and just head to your nearest Los Angeles new-age cafe and ask a stranger about the good life. From a University of Chicago Professor of Psychology, I expected more than unjustified blanket statements ("In the United States and other technologically advanced societies, individualism and materialism have almost completely prevailed over allegiance to the community and to spiritual values") and crackpot new-agey physics misinterpretations (Special relativity and fract ...more
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pulling Your Own Strings by Wayne W Dyer changed my life. Finding Flow by chick-SENT-me-high sustained my inspired, reeling, newly-introspective self with a cushion of clear and elaborate explanations as to why the themes I had found (about living independently and with a focus on valuable work) resonated so much with me. Although Czikszentmihalyi's language is sometimes overly verbose and his arguments somewhat repetitive, it results in a line of reasoning that is simple and quite frankly inspi ...more
There are two basic approaches to life, one where life just washes over you or where you wash over life. This is the difference between the engaged life vs. the passive. Some of the greatest meaning one will find in life is from experiences where they are passionately engaged in doing something they care about. When time stands still, and the sense of self dissolves, athletes call it being "in the zone", artists call it "aesthetic rapture", mystics call it "enlightenment". These experiences are ...more
Barry Davis
Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
subtitled, “the psychology of engagement with everyday life”, this little book combines self-help with psychology in providing practical advice for getting the most satisfaction and productivity out of our work and lives. distinguishing flow from happiness (when you are in flow, you are too consumed for happiness. Happiness occurs after the flow experience is over), he provides numerous examples as well as supporting data for flow experiences in work, life, leisure, even relationships. once agai ...more
Pedro Limeira
Sep 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Some interesting ideas can be noted on this book:

- Happiness might not be a good measure of a good life. You can see the same patterns throughout cultures, even if there are radical differences between two persons' routines.

- The concept of psychic energy which is allocated into different dimensions of activities - leisure, work, and maintenance.

- The concept of the state of flow - when we find ourselves lost in time and really engaged with something. Flow can happen when a couple of conditions
Mihai Rosca
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very good book.
Let me just put it out there and say that it's not written in the self help style which many people are looking for. It will not provide you with a ten step program to improve your life and find the flow that an athlete or a composer experiences when he\she is in "the zone". No, nothing of such kind.
But if you listen closely it will open your eyes, it will teach you that beyond time, attention is the most precious resource we have. That, and mental energy. And that we are used by
Dec 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
The idea of being in "flow" (which is like an athlete being in the "zone") in your everyday life is a good one. The idea of fully focusing on things when you do them, instead of only half-assing it or multitasking is a good one. The idea of engaging in activities which require brain-power and discipline and concentration (like learning to play instrument) is a good one. The idea that doing all these things will actually make you happy is a good one. It makes sense.

The only problem with this book
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Aside from a total dismissal of religion (Currently reading "Toward a true kinship of faiths : how the world's religions can come together" / His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which should probably be inserted into that chapter), Czikszentmihalyi gives a nice overview of what flow is, that a balance of reaching just higher than current skill keeps us alert and engaged, that ego is lost in flow (farewell foul friend!), and that flow gives greater meaning and satisfaction than the pursuit of happiness. ...more
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
A little repetitive, if you've read any of his other books, but still it presents a picture of experience that is identifiably real. I wish I had read this a while ago when contemplating career options. 'Flow' as M.C. describes it is the state in which one is so engaged in an activity that time seems to be suspended and a high challenge is met equally with high skill level. Too much challenge and not enough skill produces anxiety; too much skill and not enough challenge creates boredom. Flow is ...more
Feb 10, 2015 rated it liked it
If you have read Flow, the older work, this book is pretty unnecessary. Finding Flow is not a significantly more practical version of Flow, nor is it directly self-help. Instead this seems to be a pared down and more focused variant, that almost exclusively uses examples that are also in the older work. If you have not read Flow, and would enjoy a leaner book, this one is much the same. It was a nice retread for me.
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014

Table of Contents

1 The Structures of Everyday Life

2 The Content of Experience

3 How We Feel When Doing Different Things

4 The Paradox of Work

5 The Risks and Opportunities of Leisure

6 Relationships and the Quality of Life

7 Changing the Patterns of Life

8 The Autotelic Personality
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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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