It’s high time I reviewed this book because it’s one of my favorite self-development books.
To understand why, close your eyes and think back to an instance where you were doing something that made your consciousness feel harmoniously ordered, that absorbed all of your focus and attention, and that dissolved your awareness of time, worries, and even yourself.
Maybe it was playing an instrument, spending an evening with loved ones, coding a website, cooking a meal, driving a car, whatever.
Csikszentmihalyi refers to such occurrences as “optimal experiences” and the psychological and emotional state they produce as “flow,” and this book is a scientific investigation of these phenomena and how to increase their frequency and intensity in our lives.
Flow is cool, clinical, and sometimes discomfiting, which some people find off-putting. It wasn’t written to lift spirits, alleviate insecurities, or justify weaknesses and failures, and it doesn’t contain flowery prose or resonant stories.
Instead, this book reads more like a friendly but firm textbook that doesn’t care much about your problems or feelings, but don’t let that stop you from absorbing and applying its wisdom, which revolves around this central premise:
The more time we can spend in a state of flow, the less time we’ll have to be disconnected, dissatisfied, or dejected.
What’s more, as flow-producing activities are almost always active and constructive in nature, the more we engage in them, the more conscious, competent, and complex we become as individuals and the more stimulating and rewarding our progress and achievements are.
Thus, Csikszentmihalyi believes one of the most powerful ways to improve our quality of life is to spend as much of it in flow as we can. And although he doesn’t provide a pat, step-by-step checklist to follow, he does give enough pragmatic principles and real-world examples for you to understand how to lift the information off the pages and incorporate it successfully into your day-to-day.
For me, the flow framework has helped me make better choices in just about every area of my life because I’ve found the more flow-producing activities I engage in, the more my real-world conditions improve and the better I feel about them.
To do that, sometimes I modify activities to incorporate elements that are conducive to flow (more on this in a minute) and other times I simply say no to things that I know I’m going to find boring and unengaging no matter what I do.
Let’s get to the takeaways.
Would you rather read about my top 5 takeaways from Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi? Then check out this article!
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