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Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience [Paperback]

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 23 2008 P.S.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience" have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness calledflow. 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 Experienceteaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.

Frequently Bought Together

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience + Creativity: Flow And The Psychology Of Discovery And Invention + Finding Flow: The Psychology Of Engagement With Everyday Life
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From Amazon

You have heard about how a musician loses herself in her music, how a painter becomes one with the process of painting. In work, sport, conversation or hobby, you have experienced, yourself, the suspension of time, the freedom of complete absorption in activity. This is "flow," an experience that is at once demanding and rewarding--an experience that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates is one of the most enjoyable and valuable experiences a person can have. The exhaustive case studies, controlled experiments and innumerable references to historical figures, philosophers and scientists through the ages prove Csikszentmihalyi's point that flow is a singularly productive and desirable state. But the implications for its application to society are what make the book revolutionary. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Aristotle observed 2300 years ago that more than anything men and women seek happiness. Csikszentmihalyi (psychology, Univ. of Chicago) has for 25 years made similar observations regarding "flow," a field of behavioral science examining connections between satisfaction and daily activities. A flow state ensues when one is engaged in self-controlled, goal-related, meaningful actions. Data regarding flow were collected on thousands of individuals, from mountain climbers to chess players. This thoroughly researched study is an intriguing look at the age-old problem of the pursuit of happiness and how, through conscious effort, we may more easily attain it. Recommended for general readers.
- Terry McMaster, Utica Coll. of Syracuse Univ. Lib., N.Y .
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flow: A Path to Happiness Dec 5 2008
By Beth
Besides having more vowels in his name than any other researcher in the field of positive psychology, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi is probably best known for his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. So what exactlty is flow and what does it have to do with finding happiness?

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.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flow March 4 2010
I know that I am not able to put into words how great a book Flow is. A friend suggested it as good reading so I ordered a copy from amazon. Well I wasn't long placing another order for 3 more.(By the way I ordered the 3 books on Sunday evening and they were in my mail box here in Halifax on Wednesday morning) Since then 4 of us meet each Tuesday for 2 hours and have a great time sharing our thoughts on many of the interesting, down to earth subjects, in this book. There are so many points made about optimal experiences which I can relate to, such as the example given when one learns a piece of music, it gives you the feeling that you are flowing. I started learning to play the piano 14 months ago and I often experience the flow experience.I did no think it would be possible to have that feeling at 79 years of age.
There's still life in the old fellow yet. Thanks to amazon and Flow.
Paul Levangie Halifax Nova Scotia Canada
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Long on Metaphor, Short on Science Jan. 29 2000
Flow is an ecstatic state that occurs when according to Dr. C. you are really, really paying attention to some creative or demanding act. And all credit to Dr. C. for brining our attention to flow and how it influences peoples lives. But there is a teensy little problem. Dr. C. tell us what other people tell him 'flow' feels like, but in 300 pages, he never tells us what flow is. This is sort of like reading a book on headaches by Dostoevsky or some existentialist philosopher. You may get the feel of what headaches are like, but to know the physiology of headaches, a better choice would be to rely on DrKoop. Same thing unfortunately with Dr. C. Instead of a scientific analysis of flow that brings in the latest research on cognitive science or neuroscience, Dr. C. ladles on the metaphors like a never ending fountain of curdled verbal gravy. Thus flow "transports one into a new reality", represents an "ordering of consciousness", or represents some "undreamed of state of consciousness". Hmm, may I have some psychic fries with all this psychic goodness?
So Dr. C's book gets two stars for literature, but flunks out as science. Indeed, the latest research in neuroscience has demonstrated that the brain releases the neuromodulator dopamine whenever attention shifts from one salient precept to another. Whenever attention shifts a lot, as when we encounter something challenging, creative, or very interesting, a lot of dopamine is produced. Since dopamine is the pleasure chemical in the brain, as well as is responsible for drug induced highs, it stands to reason that flow is no more than a natural drug high that keeps us riveted on important thoughts. So flow is important, but is hardly best understood by the half baked Jungian analysis that Dr. C.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste so many precious moments! March 3 2004
Flow (optimal experience) is something we all strive for and this book provides many chapters designed to help us recognize it. The key to this excellent self-help book is that it helps us understand our inner self first prior to providing cheesy solutions. Just like the 12 step AA program you first have to admit something and recognize it, only then are you ready for change. After reading this book, it was easy to admit that I am not in an optimal state all the time, when perhaps I could have been.
"Hello, my name is Loopy and I'm not experiencing life in an optimal manner"
Ok, let's get serious. In this time of hostilities it is more important than ever to recognize why humans try so hard to conquer the outer world. Mihaly concentrates entirely on how to achieve flow, therefore prescribing proven techniqes to control your state of mind (inner world) and improving the quality of your life.
Flow is simply immersing yourself in an activity to the point of losing sense of time. That activity can't be too hard or too easy, just enough so that you instinctively know that you are learning and expanding. Learning to effortlessly drive a golf ball, play guitar, converse, dance and work can all provide the state of Flow.
Mihaly starts the book off with an interesting general visit to the happiness subject and asks all the right questions. He presents a strong argument focusing on how humans throughout history have focused on how health, beauty, money and power will be our shining knights, yet we only have to look inside ourselves and stretch ourselves to experience precious moments. That perfect golf swing. Writing a great review. Cooking a great meal. It's just too easy in our society to flick channels and grab a greasy burger. You have to create optimal moments.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, actionable, insightful knowledge on the flow experience
Have you ever felt like you were in the flow of things? We all have at one point or another. This book showcases how to stay in flow and help others do the same. Read more
Published 7 months ago by R. Gill
5.0 out of 5 stars Expectations Flowfilled !
This book is deservedly rated as a classic in its field : the author writes clearly, marshals an impressive body of evidence in support of his theory, and illustrates its... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rathcol
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating.
This book goes a long way toward explaining how to be happy. I found it relatively easy to understand with many examples of real people.
Published 14 months ago by Fred
4.0 out of 5 stars It was informative and enjoyable.
I liked Flow being on audio cd because then I can also be in flow while I listen to it. Instead of being stuck holding a book in my hands. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Holly
4.0 out of 5 stars Flow
I was hoping for the complete text so was disappointed as it is just an overview but still worthwhile. If you have any interest at all the book is fantastic.
Published on Jan. 27 2011 by Lorraine
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff
My product was exactly what it was supposed to be, but it took more than the max amount of time estimated to arrive (about a week later) So i was waiting for a while, but it was... Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2010 by Candace Sabiston
5.0 out of 5 stars Flow: A Path to Happiness
Besides having more vowels in his name than any other researcher in the field of positive psychology, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi is probably best known for his... Read more
Published on Dec 15 2008 by Beth
5.0 out of 5 stars Ground-Breaking Psychology and the first of several Excellent Books
The concept of Flow is subtle. It may seem simple on a surface read, but the author certainly knows what he is talking about regarding artistic creation. Read more
Published on Nov. 2 2008 by Dr. Dave
5.0 out of 5 stars Flow away
Cziskszentmihalyi introduces an experiential concept that he calls "Flow". He suggests that this experiential state is intricately related to our happiness and explores... Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2005 by Jennifer Marin
5.0 out of 5 stars Allez à la source
Tant qu'à lire sur ce sujet, autant lire le livre du "père" du concept de Flow. Read more
Published on April 16 2005 by Alain Samson
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