Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


??Finding Flow?? by Csikszentmihalyi is a companion book to “??Flow??”:http://www.ibiblio.org/smiley/blog/pivot/entry.php?id=79 Where ??Flow?? is much more theoretical, ??Finding Flow?? emphasizes and analyzes the way we spend our time. Both these books explore the flow phenomenon (also known in sports as “the zone”), but ??Finding Flow?? describes the when and how to get into the flow state in everyday activities.

I think this book should be required reading for high school and college students. Most of the material is accessible to the average 16 year old, and the lessons are important. Do your leisure activities support or hurt you? Why should you emphasize active leisure, such as sports, yoga, reading, and school clubs, rather than passive leisure, such as watching television? He even explores why people may prefer passive leisure over active leisure. What about work? How do you transform a dull, routine job into something that can induce flow or even enjoyment? How can you inject meaning into your daily activities?

I’m glad that Csikszentmihalyi doesn’t emphasize flow as a condition that’s always desirable, good, panacaea-like, or the savior of the world. Flow is the state where the environment is most ripe for personal growth, but it can also be draining and dangerous, as I “found out a couple of weeks ago”:http://www.ibiblio.org/smiley/blog/pivot/entry.php?id=134. It can also be addictive, as we see with the person who seeks thrills by driving dangerously or committing crimes or even the compulsive gambler.

What this book does not do is give a recipe for happiness, for no book can do that. Each person’s path of discovery is different. You may be able to walk away with some good ideas of how to improve matters, but applying the research in the book takes skill and perserverance. I certainly am not any good at doing it. Still, it’s highly recommended for its secular view on this important state of mind.

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One Response

  1. […] I’ve read both Finding Flow and Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. I also describe a negative experience with flow that I had some time back. But all in all, I love being able to get into that state where things just fall into place because, well, I can just make them. […]

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