The Psychology of Optimal Experience
by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi | Harper Perenniel Modern Classics © 2008 · 336 pages

Flow. It's all about the science of optimal human experience. In this Note, we'll explore what the flow state is (hint: get fully engaged in an activity that matches your skills with your challenge) and we’ll look at some other Big Ideas on controlling the contents of our consciousness to get out of anxiety and boredom as we create more flow experiences in our lives. (Plus, you'll even learn how to pronounce "Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.")

Why is it that, despite having achieved previously undreamed-of miracles of progress, we seem more helpless in facing life than our less privileged ancestors were? The answer seems clear: while humankind collectively has increased its material powers a thousandfold, it has not advanced very far in terms of improving the content of experience.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“We have called this state the flow experience, because this is the term many of the people we interviewed had used in their descriptions of how it felt to be in top form: ‘It was like floating,’ ‘I was carried on by the flow.’ It is the opposite of psychic entropy… and those who attain it develop a stronger, more confident self, because more of their psychic energy has been invested successfully in goals they themselves had chosen to pursue.”

~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi from Flow

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Let’s start by learning how to pronounce his name. According to Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness (see Notes), it’s “mee-high” “cheeks-SENT-me-high.”

Schew. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, time to get to work! :)

Csikszentmihalyi and Martin Seligman are kinda the Godfathers of the Positive Psychology movement. Did you know that, in the 20th century, for every one hundred articles written on “negative” stuff like depression, schizophrenia, etc, there was only ONE article written on the “positive” stuff like gratitude, goal setting, etc.? Yepperz. It’s awesome to see those stats changing with more and more brilliant psychologists studying the science behind living a wonderful life and we have Csikszentmihalyi and Seligman to thank for playing such significant roles.

Now on to Flow.

It’s an *incredible* book that powerfully articulates the science behind how to control our consciousness to more consistently get ourselves into the optimal state of experience known as flow, and, as a result, enjoy our lives more.

The book is packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share some of my favorites. If you’re feelin’ it and like going deep into Positive Psychology, it’s definitely worth reading cover to cover.

For now? Let’s get our flow on. :)

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About the author


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The architect of the notion of flow