Flow are those inexplicable moments of indescribable happiness that we experience at rare intervals, when we are "surprised by joy." These precious moments seem to be gifts, almost accidental peak experiences in which life seems rich with meaning, joy and wonder. When and why do these magic episodes intrude upon our humdrum existences? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's answer may surprise you: "Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments of our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times ... The best moments of our lives usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to the limits in a voluntary moment to achieve something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen ... For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves."
Csikszentmihalyi's theme is happiness. This philosopher-psychologist points out the Aristotelian concept that all other things we seek, riches, fame, power, etc. are valued only because we believe they will make us happy. Based upon decades of research on the mystery of happiness, Csikszentmihalyi defines it as moments of self-forgetfulness when we are totally absorbed in the process of life ... intervals of peak creativity and self-expression. He expands upon the research of Abraham Maslow and agrees that peak experiences are within the reach of us all. The theme of this book is the introduction of techniques to make this glad to be alive feeling occur more often. It may be stated that this book is no self-help step-by-step program, nor could it be. Each of us is plowing new snow, creating a path that no one else has traveled. The guidelines and the principles are here, but the journey into the sublime uncertainty of our destiny is individual and precious. Flow is one of several extraordinary contributions by this great mind.