Book Review: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


As I have mentioned in last post this book was referenced in many books I have already read. Most of them were really inspired by concept of "Flow" so it was natural for me to eventually read it.

Book is a lot about happiness and what it really mens. Author in his studies discovered that what we mostly think will make us happy is not working. What he discovered is one of most happy experiences is what he called "Flow". It is a deep concentration on a doable task what we immerse ourselves into.

There is a list of things that are necessary for "optimal experience":

  1. challenging task (but one that can be done)
  2. concentration
  3. clear goal
  4. immediate feedback
  5. deep involvement - concentration only on the task (no worries or frustrations)
  6. sense of control over task and actions
  7. feeling of self disappears (and appears stronger afterwards)
  8. sense of time changes
Some activities are more likely to generate "Flow" and for example Yoga practice is for the author oldest training in achieving "optimal experience". 

It is not that only sports like Yoga or martial arts are more likely to support flow. Things like composing music or active savoring can work too. The same works for almost every kind of expert. For scientist it is pleasurable to think in abstract models and figure out how things works. One interesting part of a book was that being amateur is now something bad. Being amateur novelist or poet is considered waste of time if you're not earning money on it. Author argues that you might just enjoy doing it for the sake of doing it. 

Probably one of most important things about a person is if one have "Autotelic self". What it means is you can create your own goals by yourself and enjoy immediate activities. The same goes for tragedies in our lives. Autotelic person sees it as a new challenge, new opportunity for growth. 

Overall it's really good book. It may rise more questions for you than it answers, especially at the end but it's still worth reading.

Rating: 8/10

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