Review: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Csikszentmihalyi's book is a classic text that many folks who read books about self-help, learning, gaming, and productivity are likely to be very familiar with by proxy. It's one of those books that one likely knows the gist of but I would strongly encourage to sit down and actually read (or listen) to get its full impact. At the center of Csikszentmihalyi's research is this idea that there are situations wherein people enter in a stage ("flow"), wherein they find themselves incredibly engaged with whatever it is that they are doing to the point that it may be nearly euphoric. One thing that Csikszentmihalyi emphasizes is that flow isn't necessarily just "enjoying" the activity but finding one's grounding in engaging in the activity in a way that changes the outcomes--often in beneficial ways. But what Csikszentmihalyi does is highlight the various elements that go into creating a flow experience, how individuals can find and foster flow, and how one can find flow in so many different places in life. For me, something that I appreciated and realized I have regularly done to achieve my own sense of flow is to find meaning, purpose, value, and enjoyment (as much as I can in all of these) when taking to whatever kind of task. What's great about Flow is that there are lots of strategies that can be used to help people through even challenging or less desirable challenge--be it making it into a game, pairing it with another task that is a reward, or other types of tricks of the mind that bring more energy into the activity. In the end, Csikszentmihalyi provides ideas and tools for people to use in order to people find a stronger center for their lives while also showing them ways to delve into activities with intention and meaning.

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