Finding Flow: The Psychology Of Engagement With Everyday Life (Masterminds Series) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalhi

Finding Flow: The Psychology Of Engagement With Everyday Life (Masterminds Series)

Book title : Finding Flow: The Psychology Of Engagement With Everyday Life (Masterminds Series)
By : Mihaly Csikszentmihalhi
Category : Books,Business & Careers,Industries
Wordcount : 165
Rating : 4.5
Publisher : Basic Books; Reprint edition (6 April 1998)
Language : English
Paperback : 192 pages
isbn13 : 978-0465024117
Dimensions : 13.49 x 1.22 x 20.32 cm
Best seller rank : 139,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) 179 in Consulting 625 in Other Art Media & Techniques 656 in Creativity (Books)
Salesrank : 139301

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, watching TV or absorbed by our phones.What are we missing? To answer this question, Csikszentmihalyi studied thousands of people, and he found the key. People are happiest when they challenge themselves with tasks that demand a high degree of skill and commitment, and which are undertaken for their own sake. Instead of watching television, play the piano. Take a routine chore and figure out how to do it better, faster, more efficiently. In short, learn the hidden power of complete engagement, a psychological state the author calls flow. Though they appear simple, the lessons in Finding Flow are life-changing.

This is a simpler, more practical book than Csikszentmihalyi’s other popular work on the subject (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience). He explains how you can apply the insights from his teams’ experiments at the University of Chicago. They’ve been studying enjoyment for over thirty years — what it is and how people create it. They are not studying simple pleasure, but real, enjoyable absorption in a task.Csikszentmihalyi originally studied artists and noticed it wasn’t the end-product most good painters were after, it was the process of painting. He was surprised to see painters finish a painting and immediately set up another canvas to continue painting — without even looking at the masterpiece they had just created. This intrigued him and so he has spent his lifetime exploring this interesting and enjoyable state he calls “flow”, and he knows something about how we can have more of it in our lives.I’m the author of the book, Self-Help Stuff That Works, and I’m an expert on what is effective. Csikszentmihalyi’s work is in that category. You can apply his insights and truly experience more enjoyable flow in your life.

I just finished “Flow” and was delighted. Csikszentmihalyi has done an excellent job of bringing together research (most of it his own)and presenting it in a clear, engaging way. Even better, the concept of “flow” is real and important — I found myself frequenty brought out of an intellectual assessment into more personal reflections on flow in my life. And cheaper than psychotherapy! My only criticism is that the layout is a bit too straightforward — more visual variety would have been appropriate straightf

The book tends to dawdle a bit on very vague concepts but has a few specific facts that are hidden inside that make the book worth reading.BUT don’t buy this, unless you are prepared to find the flow in your life.

Csikszentmihalyi defines “flow” as the feeling of effortlessness of action we experience at the best moments in our lives. People in flow are completely focused; self-consciousness and the awareness of time give way to full immersion in the moment. We usually attain flow when faced with clear and challenging goals that stretch our abilities without overtaxing them. Most often people have “flow experiences” when they engage in their favorite activities, whether playing or working. Csikszentmihalyi suggests that by paying close attention to what we do every day, and how we feel doing it, we can learn to maximize these positive moments and thus improve our psychic well-being.FINDING FLOW is not a sappy, vacuous self-help book for the masses–it reminds us intelligently, without cheerleading or condescension, that complaining about a lack of time is a common excuse for not taking control of our lives. It also tells us something we have often heard, but love to forget: flow comes when we have goals, not because achieving them is necessarily important, but because a lack of goals leads to a struggle to concentrate and avoid distractions. This passage reminded me of what my favorite classics professor once told us: “Without Ithaka, there is no Odyssey.”Many great thinkers of the past (Homer, Carlyle, Dr. Seuss) have one way or another said what Csikszentmihalyi says; few have focused on happiness as happiness so successfully, and in so few pages. Find your flow!

Suppose that I, upon walking outside during a sunny day, take an interest in sunbeams, and decide to write a book about them. I find out that a lot of people experience them, enjoy them, are enraptured by them, and write great poetry about them. And so it is easy for me to write a book extolling sunbeams. But do I really understand sunbeams? Not particularly, unless I supplement the subjective knowledge of sunbeams with an objective knowledge of the physics of light.When folks are put in situations that require them to rapidly shift their attention between a host of important precepts, they often report a feeling of ecstasy and pleasure. Like sunbeams, a lot of people experience this, find it a source of enjoyment and rapture, and write great poetry about it. And so Dr. C. writes a poetic book extolling flow. But does he provide a scientific understanding of this ‘flow’ state. No.Dr. C. is to be praised by demonstrating from extensive interviews that this experiential state is both very common and very real. But what this state is he unfortunately does not tell us, nor does he even make an effort to do so. Instead, we are offered up a host of subjective appraisals that tell us a lot about the poetry of flow, but next to nothing about its neuro-physiological correlates, how flow originates, how it is learned, or how it is to be compared to other pleasurable states from relaxation to emotional excitement. Ultimately, Dr. C’s refusal to entertain the perspectives which may be derived from cognitive science, neuropsychology, and learning theory consign his effort to the annals of literature, not science. Science engages multiple perspectives that are anchored to real events, not the breathless detached kinds that make flow more a mystical than a real experience.Flow is basically a state of sustained high alertness, and contemporary research in neuroscience has amply demonstrated that mental alertness is mediated by the release of brain chemicals (namely the neuromodulator dopamine) that keep us motivated, rooted, alert, and feel good in the bargain. Unfortunately, this analysis doesn’t have the resonance of a semi-mystical ‘flow’ state, which is alluring precisely because it is so obscure. So if psychological obscurantism is your thing, then I recommend this book. But if you really want to understand the bio-behavioral processes which make us tick, I would recommend other books that describe (although without the poetry) how complex emotional behavior arises from the unique interactions of our minds and environments. Thus I would recommend Damasio’s excellent ‘Descartes Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain’. I would also recommend Donahoe and Palmer’s scholarly work: ‘Learning and Complex Behavior’ for a complete accounting of the actual neural processes that underlie the attentional processes that sometimes make us feel good or ‘flowing’ in the bargain.

At an intuitive level I “knew” this book was valuable to me. But just reading it did not allow me to gel all of the life-affirming and wisdom-based messages. It was not until I mindmapped the book — tore its ideas apart — and rebuilt them — that I totally grasped all of its positive life-altering ideas. By mindmapping the book, its ideas are now an ever-growing part of my “new” life.This book has/is/continues to dramatically alter my life in powerful/positive directions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.