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Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990)

de Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience" have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.… (mais)
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I have long know that the book says that there is an optimal state when the task is challenging, but not too challenging. In that state, it becomes effortless and highly satisfying. This book is really about complexity.

There is a lot more to the book that just defining flow and how to achieve. Flow is concerned with strategies for making life richer, more complex. He states that increasing levels of complexity are necessary for an activity to remain satisfying. He sees similarities between religion, great thinkers, yoga and other activities which create conditions suitable for flow. I enjoyed this book much more than I had imagined I would. I thought I knew what the book was about from the soundbites that I'd heard about it. No, it is a lot more complex than that. It is interesting, fascinating, and delightful.

I don't need to summarize his book or life because others have already created nice summaries.
Wikipedia article on the book: Flow
Wikipedia article on the author ( )
  bread2u | May 15, 2024 |
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was studying and writing articles and books about flow in the 1970’s, so the notes in this 1990 publication (I read the 2008 version—I assume they share the same notes section.) have many references to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s earlier works on this and related topics. Known as a Positive Psychology topic, flow is about deriving joy from losing oneself in an activity—losing the sense of individual self while being carried along in the process of that activity, which some questionnaire respondents likened to floating down a river. (Per Wikipedia, this is the origin of the term, as noted in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1975) “Beyond boredom and anxiety”) This interesting book reports on studies, and responses to the questionnaire comprised of descriptions of the joy of being submerged in an activity, and draws conclusions on how this state of mind can be more commonly attained.
This is the current West Los Angeles College (WLAC) "one book", that librarians and professors incorporate into studies. ( )
  TraSea | Apr 29, 2024 |
A fundamental psychological text which introduces one of the central pieces to shape game design and performance.

Flow still remains a mysterious factor but ever growing in socio economic relevance. If society “flowed” might we forget many other problems? ( )
  yates9 | Feb 28, 2024 |
Simply the most important book for anyone who wants a passion and not just a career. Too many people ask themselves the wrong question. Am I happy? What is happiness? etc.. Instead of getting an answer, they get caught in the debate, because they aren't really looking to be happy. They are looking for Flow. (Of course it sounds funny to say "I'm flow" not the best word choice on his part. To me, its better described as nirvana.)

Flow is that feeling when you are so at one with what you are doing that everything else fades away. It could be that feeling when you are laughing with your kids or making a new discovery at work, or baking a cake or helping a divorced couple find a way to get along so the kids don't suffer. It's whatever you do that makes you so absorbed in it, you are one with the task at that moment. And the fulfillment and satisfaction accompanying those moments is really what most of us seek when we use the word happiness.

( )
  stickersthatmatter | May 29, 2023 |
Better than average self-help book by a respected psychologist. But it's still basically a self-help book and a 23-year-old one at that. I guess I was expecting a little more. ( )
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
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Weber claimed, after this science [of capitalism] was perfected, it developed its own goals, based on the logic of production and consumption and not that of human happiness. At that point economic behavior ceases to be rational, because it is no longer guided by the goal that originally justified it....Weber himself complained that capitalism which originated as a religious vocation, had in time become a mere "sport" for entrepreneurs--and an "iron cage" for everyone else. [275-276 notes]
When a person's psychic energy coalesces into a life theme, consciousness achieves harmony. [230]
[In Dante's Divina Commedia -- used in seminar on the pitfalls of midlife--ambition, lust, and greed, or in Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, the desire for power, sex and money] Virgil tries to reassure Dante--the good news is that there is a way out of the dark forest. The bad news is that the way leads through hell." [235]
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Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience" have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.

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