Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience Paperback – 31 Mar 1991
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"Elegantly written...it is more relevant than ever" (The Times)
"Mr Csikszentmihalyi illuminates the accuracy of what philosophers have been saying for centuries: that the way to happiness lies not in mindless hedonism but in mindful challenge" (The New York Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This classic popular psychology title explains how, by altering our perspective, we can find happiness, dispel disharmony and enter a state of perfect equilibrium - a state of 'flow' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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This book took a long time to read and is quite long winded but the author writes well and I found the content engaging and I stopped reading often to contemplate the meaning of certain passages.
The author could have improved the book by making the content more succinct and summarising the key points more clearly.
Here are some of the ideas that I took away from the book:
• Happiness is a choice
• Our ability to be happy depends on how we interpret events. i.e. control over our consciousness
• A person that has control of their consciousness can focus for as long as necessary to achieve their goals and not be distracted by what the world throws at them in terms of thoughts and other distractions
• The pursuit of material goals does not enhance our ability to control consciousness.
• We should therefore spend more time learning to control consciousness than pursuit of material goals
• The key to flow is growth of the self through a sense of discovery and redefined consciousness
• It’s not what we do that makes us happy, it’s how we do it
• Focus on activities that can create flow
• If you can train your mind well enough then it can entertain you in any moment
• Flow can be diminished if choice is removed and people feel a necessity to complete a certain activity rather than using it as a hobby
• Simply investing psychic energy in an otherwise meaningless task can make it meaningful
• If you lack the ability to control your consciousness then try changing your activity to make it more like a game with inherent rewards
• Hobbies that are most conducive to flow should include skill, goal setting and require discipline
• Invest your time in real challenges rather than watch other people on TV
• Passive entertainment is a waste of time
• Quality of life depends on our work and our relationships
• Flow in relationships can be maintained by constantly finding new challenges
• The value of education is equipping students with the ability to understand and produce flow throughout their lives
• When in a stressful situation do not focus attention on your self but try to focus attention on others and the wider world
• Transform stressful activities into flow activities by setting goals, immersing yourself in the activity and focusing
• The meaning of life is to have a meaning, whatever it is
• Ideally your life’s meaning should transcend the changing conditions of life so that when events unfold you are able to adapt.
• In all aspects of your life choose a goal and go for it.
The book goes through every type of activity and how to find flow in these. It even explores personal relationships such as talking with friends.
I'd highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a different approach to find meaning in our chaotic lives.
Great approach to integrating success in work, love, life; not about finding a trick. It is a tool (not a morality) to increase attention, which provides focus to build skills, which increases the ability to solve tasks of greater complexity, which leads to richer & fuller lives (social, personal, mental, etc.). Not hot air--backed by research.
There are short and long ways to define the concept of flow. The short way is to tell you that flow is roughly the equivalent to what most people refer to as being "in the zone" or "in the groove". More elaborate definitions might be that it is "the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people do it even at great cost, for the sheer state of doing it."
Being such a desirable state, flow is naturally linked to happiness. The book feels that the path to happiness is a circuitous one that begins with one achieving control over the "contents of our consciousness". I'm taking that to mean that if I learn to find flow experiences, it will lead to greater happiness.
Know from the get-go that "Flow" is NOT a step-by-step book that gives you tips on how to be happy. Instead, the book summarizes years of research, so what you get when all is said and done, are general principles along with examples of how people have used them to transform their lives. The hope, then, is that you will have enough information in the book to make the transition from principles and theory, to actual practice.
In a nutshell, Flow is a unique and interesting book that examines the process of achieving happiness through the control of one's inner life. I didn't find it as easy to read as some books written by academic individuals, such as David Myer's The Pursuit of Happiness: Discovering the Pathway to Fulfillment, Well-Being, and Enduring Personal Joy, but it's definitely a "digestable" read for the general audience.
I'll tell you, though, after reading a lot of positive psychology books, you start to see some common threads. In "Flow", one of the conditions that makes flow occur is that you have a clear goal. And in the book Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World, it reveals that one proven way to increase long-term happiness (according to controlled trials cited in the book) is to set intrinsic/self-concordant goals. With much happiness research coming to similar conclusions, perhaps an important take-home message is this: the kinds of things we choose to spend our time on can have a HUGE impact on how happy we are. Happy trails!
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