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Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life Hardcover – January 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 181 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books, Inc.; 1st edition (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004TM70AS
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,211,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a professor at Claremont Graduate University and former chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. His previous books include The Evolving Self and the national bestseller Flow.

Customer Reviews

This book is based on very extensive research and therefore provides much meaningful information.
kkant@singnet.com.sg
Instead if is a collection of stats and anecdotes about to what degree various groups of people do or don't experience flow when doing various activities.
K. Furr
Csikszentmihalyi defines "flow" as the feeling of effortlessness of action we experience at the best moments in our lives.
oh_pete

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

184 of 193 people found the following review helpful By Coert Visser on October 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
`What is a good life?', is basically the question addressed by this book. Well, isn't a good life just about being happy? Ok, but that is not the complete answer. For how do we become and stay happy? Not by watching TV, eating, or relaxing all day! In small doses these things are good and improve your daily life, but the effects are not additive. In other words: a point of diminishing returns is quickly reached. Also you don't become happy by having to do nothing. Csikszentmihalyi's research shows that both intrinsic motivation (wanting to do something) and extrinsic motivation (having to do something) are preferable to not having any kind of goal to focus your attention.
Csikszentmihalyi argues that a life filled with `flow activities' is more worth living than one spent consuming passive entertainment. He says, the point is to be happy while doing things that stretch your goals and skills that help you grow and fulfil your potential. In other words: the content of your experiences over a lifetime determines the quality of your life. Then what exactly ìs `flow'? Is it just some vague new New Age concept? Not at all! It is precisely defined and well-researched. The experience if flow is the sense of effortless action we feel in moments that we see as the best in our lives. In order to have flow experiences you need clear goals/demands, immediate and relevant feedback and a balance between your skills and the demands. Then your attention becomes ordered and fully invested. Because of the total demand on you psychic energy you become completely focused, your self-consciousness disappears, as does your sense of time, yet you feel strong and competent.
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50 of 50 people found the following review helpful By oh_pete on January 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
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!
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Wise Cat on December 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
Several books have been written on the subject of happiness, good life, meaningful life etc. Typically, writers unravel their "philosophy of life" without backing up their theories with facts. Most of the self help books are full of clichés like "Have a positive attitude", "Never give up" etc. Mihaly takes a very different approach. Armed with a scientific approach to measure experiences (ESM - Experience Sampling Method) Mihaly goes on to show the correlation between the choices people make and the quality of their lives. Again, what is propounded by the author is not "coffee table philosophy" but inference drawn on the basis of statistical data collected in several experiments. ESM study clearly shows that people feel at their best when they indulge in high- challenge, high skill activities (like demanding work, playing a game, pursuing a hobby) and feel at their worst when they indulge in low challenge - low skill activities (like watching TV). As one of the reviewers has written, some argue that this can be deduced from "common sense". There is a huge difference between the conventional wisdom attributed to common sense and inferences drawn on the basis of research. As one of the experiments described by Mihaly indicates a myth (attributed to "common sense") that people "know" how to use leisure falls flat on its face. (More on this in next paragraph)

The book touches upon a variety of interesting and important topics. Of all the topics discussed in the book, the one I that I like best is the chapter on Risks and Rewards of Leisure. As Mihaly points out, we are some how supposed to possess skills required for the effective use of leisure. As the ESM based research indicates, people feel good when they do things they want to do or do things that they have to do.
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123 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Adam Khan VINE VOICE on January 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
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.
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