The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Buy book - Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
What exactly is the subject of the Flow book?
Flow (1990) investigates how we may enjoy ourselves more fully in our lives by exercising control over our attention and strengthening our determination. This is accomplished by immersing ourselves in an activity or topic that does not cause us to get worried (if it is too difficult) or bored (if it is too easy). When we are in this "flow state," we are no longer mindful of ourselves, selfish of others, or aware of the passage of time. We may create a state of flow by establishing goals and receiving quick feedback. This improves our connection with work, enhances our sense of self-worth, and gives our life meaning and purpose.
Who is it that reads the Flow book?
- Anyone who wants to be more involved in their relationships, their job, or the world Anyone who wants to rise beyond mediocrity and achieve mastery over anything Anyone who wants to learn how ancient wisdom and different cultures may help them improve their health
What is the identity of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi?
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, and he has a PhD in psychology from the same institution. In the fields of positive psychology, creativity, and motivation, he has been dubbed "the world's most prominent researcher." His other books, which are also based on this study, are Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention and Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life, all of which are available on Amazon.
What exactly is in it for me? Simply going with the flow is the best way to find purpose in your life.
When some individuals live a joyful and creative life, others appear to be stuck in a comfortable but stressful rut. What is it about certain people that makes them happy and creative? Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, provides the solution. According to Flow, a landmark book in psychology, in our increasingly worried and distracted lifestyles, we may become too focused on external incentives and opinions, leading to burnout (for example, by compulsively comparing ourselves with our peers). A much needed cure is provided by the book, which provides methods that allow us to concentrate instead on intrinsic rewards, which may lead us to get so completely immersed in our hobbies that we reach a state of pure flow. As a result, we simply do not care about external rewards such as power or money, and we do not even bother to examine the views of others while we are in this condition.
The book Flow, which is based on years of scientific study, also draws on ancient wisdom and philosophy, as well as contemporary psychology, to offer a plethora of instances of individuals who have found how to "go into the zone," and as a result, lead happy lives and perform their best work. For example, you will learn that many scientists carried out some of their most groundbreaking research in their free time. The reasons why a physician or a wealthy athlete may be profoundly bored will be revealed, as will the reasons why a factory worker waxes poetic about a variety of topics. You'll also learn how, as Malcolm X discovered, spending time in prison may help you find your objectives and strengthen your determination - as it did for him. You will also learn how being more aware of your surroundings may help you get the greatest enjoyment out of listening to music in the last section of this article.
In the event that you are unsatisfied at work or bored and miserable at home, these notes will shock you out of your rut and motivate you to make the most of your short time on this planet, which is now.
We use religion and wealth to shield ourselves from a reality that is indifferent and devoid of purpose.
When we look back on our lives, we realize how small they seem to be. And when we take a closer look at them, we realize that we are dissatisfied and unsatisfied. Most of us seek solace in religion or external rewards such as money or celebrity in order to deal with life's challenges. While this method seems to make logic, it has the potential to lead to our losing our ability to think critically. So, for example, while organized religions like Christianity and Islam have provided us with rules to live by and given our lives meaning, we have discovered firsthand that the fundamental principles of religion are incorrect. This has led us to question the validity of organized religions in the first place. Despite this, many individuals continue to adhere to religious beliefs because it makes them feel more comfortable believing that life has purpose.
For another thing, many empires and civilizations encouraged their people to think they controlled their own destiny — for example, the Romans during their heyday and the Chinese before to the Mongol invasion – but this was not always the case. Although this idea provided comfort to many, it was shown to be utterly incorrect when each of these civilizations came crashing down. And, if we aren't hiding behind religion or political ideology to escape the meaninglessness of our existence, we are attempting to get external pleasures like as power, money, or celebrity by whatever means necessary. However, they do not satisfy us for extremely long periods of time.
Without a doubt, we live in luxury times, and individuals from the past would be hard-pressed to believe the comforts that contemporary living has to offer. However, having more money and accumulating more possessions does not seem to make us happy. According to one research, one's level of happiness with one's life has little to do with one's level of wealth. You don't have to go far to find proof of this: simply consider the large number of wealthy people who frequently seek treatment from psychiatrists. As a result, in order to give our life purpose, we attempt to alter the environment in which we live, whether by flaunting our riches to impress others or pursuing important positions. All of them, however, fall short of sustaining our pleasure.
Our genes drive us to seek for simple pleasures rather than the skills and difficulties that come with satisfaction.
While our attention can only handle a finite amount of information throughout our lifetime, the majority of us prefer immediate gratification as a means of compensating for the everyday grind of our lives from this diminishing resource. This is due to the fact that we choose uncomplicated pleasure to the more gratifying, but more difficult to get, pleasures of life. Similarly to sleeping or eating, pleasure offers basic restorative order: humans have developed to the point that when our blood sugar is low, we feel hungry and are compelled to consume something. When we are enjoying ourselves, we are pushing ourselves, utilizing our abilities and attention to overcome the seeming limits of the genes we were born with. As a result, pleasure assists us in achieving the lofty objectives we set for ourselves and allows us to acquire control over our attention.
Consider the following scenario: we are cooking a dish that we have never prepared before. As a result of the patience and desire to try new things that this job necessitates, we acquire a refined taste that allows us to enjoy each and every mouthful. Nonetheless, it is pleasure, rather than enjoyment, that humans seem to desire, often manifesting itself in the form of painless escapism and hedonism. These, on the other hand, are devoid of innovation and development opportunities. For example, many of us sit in front of the television or watch films or videos after a long day's work. When we are in this condition of pure consuming, we are at our most passive and susceptible to distraction. Furthermore, many of us relax with alcohol or other substances on the weekends, which is a common practice. While drugs may promise relaxation or an expansion of awareness, the reality is that we frequently lose our capacity to focus and lose control as a consequence of using them.
The predictable narratives of television shows, as well as the false paradise of drink or drugs, both require external stimulus, but neither enables us to exercise expertise or devote our entire attention to our objectives. Our brains often fail to attain development or complexity despite our best efforts, but we should avoid taking the route of least resistance and greatest distraction at all costs.
However, although the components of pleasure are accessible to everyone, our individual objectives are distinct.
Even though individuals speak in a variety of languages and cultures, they all use the same words to describe the sensation of being "in the zone." Instead of pleasure, this is a sense of satisfaction that occurs when you are involved in a work or activity that balances skills and difficulties, has clear objectives, and provides quick feedback. Consider the case of surgeons, who are capable of performing very complex procedures. The absence of blood in an incision provides them with instant visible feedback on how well they are doing, while the removal of a sick organ may give them with pleasure owing to the confidence that a surgery has been a success.
However, not everyone will share the same objectives. Consider the differences between surgeons and practitioners of internal medicine. They have defined objectives, just as surgeons do; but, since they cannot get instant feedback, they must establish alternative objectives for pleasure, such as correctly diagnosing a disease and giving the appropriate medication in a timely manner. To be in the zone implies that you are completely absorbed in the activity at hand. This is a combination of activity and awareness that gives you a sense of being in command. Consider the profession of rock climbers. In pursuit of their objectives, they undoubtedly confront great risk, but what they love most about their work is utilizing their knowledge to allay their anxieties - for example, by correctly assessing the difficulty of a climb. In order to do this, they must give their entire concentration to the job at hand.
It has also been noticed among Melanesian sailors that they are completely immersed and completely focused. After being blinded and transported hundreds of miles away from their home island, researchers discovered that these sailors were able to identify their precise position just by paying attention to the way ocean currents steered the boat. Because of the strength of this absorption, which we can witness in the surgeons, rock climbers, and Melanesian sailor, we are able to be released from our self-consciousness, concerns, and fears, and we are able to lose track of time. Indeed, the rock climber becomes so engrossed in the complexities of the rock face that he forgets about his difficulties, and surgeons have reported having the feeling that their operating team is an one organism while doing their procedures.
It is necessary to face difficulties that are linked to personal benefits in order to learn new and fascinating abilities.
A visitor from the United States went into an antique shop in Naples one morning and requested to purchase a sculpture. After quoting a high price, the owner changed his mind when he saw the visitor was ready to pay and stated the sculpture was not for sale. Why? Rather of attempting to take advantage of the tourist, he set a high price because he liked negotiating and the battle of wits it entailed, as it helped him to improve his mental agility and sales abilities, which he used to his advantage. In engaging in something like this – something that is neither too simple nor too tough – we have a tendency to push our own boundaries and accomplish greater things than we would otherwise. A novice at tennis will first appreciate the simple act of attempting to hit the ball over the net, as seen in this illustration. Eventually, this simple task will become tedious, and you will begin searching for new and more challenging challenges - most likely by competing against another person.
In the event that you select an opponent who is much more talented than yourself, you may quickly find yourself feeling out of your depth and worried. Because the task is so tough, you may even forego the opportunity to learn new talents as a result of it. However, if you pick an opponent who is just a little bit better than you, your abilities may really increase. Improvement, on the other hand, necessitates that these talents be linked with personal objectives and interests, and that they stay untouched by external conditions such as the promise of a reward if you do well, or the fear of punishment if you do not perform well. Take, for example, the ceramicist Eva Zeisel, who was detained by Stalin's secret police. Inspired by a personal desire to preserve her mental health, she engaged in mental gymnastics, played chess against herself, memorized poems, and performed other activities. Even under the most difficult circumstances, she persisted to develop her abilities.
People like Zeisel, who had nothing else to keep them motivated, created games for themselves in order to keep themselves sane, enhance their abilities and powers of imagination, and maintain control over their own awareness and consciousness.
We may utilize our senses and movements to help us tune into a more acute level of awareness if we practice discipline in this area.
For the majority of us, the concept of paying attention to our movement is foreign territory. Walking is just a means of getting from A to B. However, by paying attention to the diversity of sights and sounds around you - the people, their relationships, historical artifacts, architecture, and so on – even the most mundane activities, such as strolling, may be elevated. We may learn to observe far more than our natural reaction to the environment enables us to by exercising awareness of our surroundings. Indeed, the world is rich with opportunities for creativity. The sky is ablaze with forms and hues that are both beautiful and strange. Being conscious of such marvels enables us to feel more connected to the world and to view things in a different light. Consider the power of music, for example. Today, we have a plethora of options and can listen to virtually any kind of music with the touch of a button.
Despite this, we are seldom able to become lost in its entire intricacy. The ability to be mindful of the music we listen to can open the door to other levels of experience: the sensory, where you can feel your body responding to rhythm and bass; the analogic, where you see corresponding images in your mind's eye (perhaps Tchaikovsky driving you on a sleigh through snow-covered forest); and the analytic, where you analyze the structure of a piece and compare it to other versions, as well as compose music. However, in order to become aware, we must first develop more self-control, which may be accomplished by drawing on old Eastern knowledge.
Yoga has been performed for thousands of years as a means of liberating oneself from one's ego. The ability to focus our attention in a good direction that is linked with particular objectives, however, is a powerful tool. The disciplines of nonviolence, obedience, cleanliness, disciplined study, and acknowledgement of a higher power are some of the measures that yoga recommends to help us concentrate our attention. It is definitely feasible to exert extraordinary influence over your mind by using nothing more than the physical body in which you are now residing.
Our memory and thoughts may be developed such that they are more focused on complicated concepts rather than on our own faults.
Many of us who participate in sports and fitness find pleasure in the concentrated concentration that these activities need. It is not just via sports that we may accomplish this; we can also utilize our brains to play games and enter the "flow state," which is a state of complete relaxation that is associated with pleasure. It is possible to achieve a condition of mental flow by participating in language and memory games and exercises. Crossword puzzles, for example, are a great way to pass the time on trains, but this activity is reliant on an external stimulation. You might instead try your hand at designing your own crossword puzzles. In addition to increasing flow, this may also enhance your wordplay abilities, which can make discussions more enjoyable by transcending the typical small talk and boring exchanges that are common in most interactions.
You may also use your memory to your advantage. Locate a topic that fascinates you and learn all you can about it, such as a line of poetry or the events of World War II that you find compelling. When you do this, you give yourself the ability to depend on your own memories to excite your mind and to feel a connection with the subject matter. Furthermore, achieving a flow state may be achieved by concentrating on other factors rather than on one's own shortcomings. To be happy, you might try doing what Bertrand Russell did to make himself happy: forgetting about your own faults and concentrating instead on the external world, by immersing yourself in many different areas of knowledge, or focusing on individuals you like and admire. As a result, even the complicated realms of science and philosophy may be appreciated by both amateur and professional researchers since they promote reflection and the application of reasoning.
Thousands of scientists have attained success simply because they love the process of honing their scientific abilities and learning new ones. For example, Isaac Newton spent two years living alone at a farmhouse, during which time he developed his theory of gravity, which was later published. Gregor Mendel, on the other hand, was a priest whose gardening hobby resulted in the discovery of genetics. And let us not forget Einstein, who during the day worked in a Swiss patent office, but spent his spare time developing his ideas on his computer.
Work that is treated as a game, with intrinsic incentives and a diverse set of abilities, ceases to be considered "work".
Many individuals are unhappy with their everyday routines, and their employment are often to blame for this dissatisfaction. What makes things worse is that their free time is spent recuperating from their job in the most sedentary manner possible. Work, on the other hand, may be transformed into something that offers a challenge, focuses our attention, and helps us to cope with our worries. To illustrate, consider a hamlet in the Italian Alps where the elderly inhabitants didn't distinguish between their daily job and their leisure time. On a daily basis, they had to wake up at 5 a.m. to milk cows, carry bales of hay for kilometers, maintain the orchard, and prepare meals for their family, among other things. Nonetheless, when asked what they would do differently if they were rich, they said that they would not alter a thing about their life.
Many individuals have said that while they are working, they are more likely to be in a state of flow than when they are not working. They also expressed a greater confidence in their own abilities to be creative and concentrate. Creating intrinsic rewards (that is, ones that are not driven by monetary incentives or extrinsic power) is one method of entering a flow state. Examples of intrinsic rewards include attempting to outperform your previous performance level or learning as much as you can about your profession.
Take, for example, the train car welder who was very well-liked by his coworkers and customers. A large part of his popularity stemmed from the fact that he had mastered every important job on his company's assembly line and that he really liked doing each one of them. He also turned down promotions since he liked to do a variety of physical jobs and took pleasure in turning each one into a new challenge. His day was over, and instead of seeking refuge, he spent his spare time tending to his garden, which he had planted himself. For this reason, in order to achieve a state of flow at work, you should actively seek out new challenges, with the goal of gaining as much knowledge as possible about all of the important activities involved in keeping your business operating, rather than just clocking in and leaving.
Our enjoyment, self-expression, and development are all enhanced when we spend time with our families, friends, and community.
Trains that are overcrowded and open-plan workplaces may have an impact on our sense of freedom and uniqueness. The ability to devote our whole concentration to anything enables us to benefit from alone time, yet it may also result in boredom. That is when we need the assistance of those whom we are familiar with and trust. In a nutshell, supportive family, friends, and neighbors. Good families offer honest criticism, unconditional acceptance, and a sense of long-term direction. Families that are favorable to pleasant experiences are both differentiated, embracing each family member's unique talents and characteristics for what they are, and integrated - being honest, fair to everyone, and ignoring no one – in their approach. To provide an example, parents who participate in physically demanding, skill-based activities such as carpentry or cooking rather than passively watching television or drinking are more likely to see their children attempt to imitate these good characteristics.
We also need strong friendships since they are necessary for developing our expressive side. The abilities we possess are either practical, such as survival and professional skills, or expressive, such as the ability to communicate our personalities effectively. Comparatively speaking, spending time with friends fosters our expressive side: it results in much greater levels of pleasure, self-esteem, strength and drive – not to mention the opportunity to perform in front of an audience. Finally, we rely on our neighbors and communities to give us with the chance for novelty and development when we need it. If we ignore our neighbors and stay out of touch with our community, we will lose out on their assistance in the future and will be forced to revert to our previous behaviors.
Consider, for example, the Indian tribes of Canada, who often discover locations with abundant food supplies and build permanent settlements in these areas. But they uproot and relocate to a new location, where they must learn new methods of foraging and harvesting food. This implies that they must learn new techniques of locating and harvesting food with every generation. In order to shake themselves out of their regular lifestyles and recover fresh abilities, health, or vitality, they engage in this activity. As a result, make an investment in your relationships, as they will offer numerous possibilities for pleasure and development in the future.
Focused attention helps us to separate ourselves from our anxieties, allowing us to gain perspective and discover fresh avenues for growth.
We are all confronted with adversity at some point in our lives. Rather of just giving up because we are unable to deal with the issue, we may use one of the three methods outlined below to help us: First and foremost, we must let go of our egos and place our faith in our capacity to deal with circumstances as they occur. For example, we've all had a computer that refuses to function for no apparent reason, typically while we're in the midst of something critical. And the majority of us have had the unfortunate experience of being on trains that broke down, causing us to miss our appointments for the day. "Why is this happening to me?" we think to ourselves on a regular basis. The reason for our dissatisfaction is because such circumstances seem to be in direct contradiction with our objectives. As a result, we must learn to evaluate and respect not just our own personal wants and motivations, but but the rules that control the computer or the train as well.
The second approach is to train ourselves to be more conscious of our surroundings. Let us consider the case of Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly alone over the Atlantic Ocean. Most people would have been terrified by the prospect of taking such a seemingly risky flight, but Lindbergh chose to concentrate on the details of the cockpit — the levers, knobs, and even the welding marks – rather than his own feelings of dread. Lindbergh was able to overcome his nervousness by practicing mindfulness. Instead of giving up in the face of tough circumstances, you should utilize them as a springboard for developing new approaches to solving them. Consider the following scenario: you've been putting in long hours at your job, but your one opportunity at advancement is jeopardized by your boss's unique connection with a coworker.
One option is to attempt to gain favor with your employer by ingratiating yourself with him or her. However, you might also adopt a more creative approach, such as accepting a position with a different business, pursuing a different professional path, or just deciding to devote more time to your own initiatives. There is no one option that is superior than the other, although the latter would present you with much more fun difficulties than the former.
Discovering your life's purpose begins with a set of clear objectives and the will to put them into action.
Because the Earth is not the center of the universe and because our genes have the ability to alter our existence, life may seem to be devoid of ultimate significance. We can, however, create meaning, and the beauty of this is that each of us has the ability to select what that meaning will be. To discover your life's purpose, you must have a long-term objective on which to concentrate. The ultimate objective is immaterial as long as it immerses you completely in more difficult problems, enabling you to ignore the views of others in order to achieve it. Renaissance painters, for example, aspired to and immersed themselves in an idealistic society, selecting freely from the best of two conflicting cultures: one centered on physical health and the tangible senses, the other on abstraction and spirituality, and so on.
Once you've determined your objective, you must take action to achieve it, which necessitates the use of strong intents and resolves. It's much too easy to have a vision for one's life but never follow through on it. Indeed, many individuals continue to be "armchair activists," delaying by creating unending to-do lists as a kind of procrastination. Antonio Gramsci, for example, might have easily become simply another sheltered scholar, but he instead channeled his childhood diseases and poverty into a lifetime struggle against the socioeconomic circumstances that plagued his family. Because of his tenacity, he became a vocal political opponent of Mussolini's regime, and he died in one of Mussolini's prisons as one of Fascism's most determined opponents. Finally, your objectives and resolutions should be in harmony with one another and reflect a recurring theme in your life.
Malcolm X was one of the individuals who achieved success in this area. He grew raised in poverty, worked as a drug dealer, and spent time in prison. It was there that he found reading and contemplation, as well as the self-knowledge that fueled his determination to become a civil rights activist and make a positive difference in the lives of others. Consider where we'd be if we didn't have such clear objectives and a strong sense of purpose. Would we be able to battle terrible illnesses, create masterpieces, or go on the moon if we lived in the future?
Flow concludes with a final summation.
One of the most important messages in this book is that, in order to live an ideal life, one should avoid being swayed by external incentives or the judgments of others. You may find pleasure in life by concentrating on each and every moment, being aware of your surroundings, and immersing yourself in your hobbies and interests. Finally, you should never shy away from tough difficulties since they may propel you forward in your personal development and accomplishment. Advice that can be put into action: Learn more about the responsibilities of your position. Set a goal for yourself to learn as much as you can about your profession, embrace chances for additional responsibilities, and work more efficiently and effectively than you have in the past. Not only will this result in less procrastination, but it will also result in the time passing much more swiftly. Furthermore, you'll gain greater popularity among your coworkers, and you may even be given a promotion, but don't allow these benefits be your primary drive. Turn off the television and use your imagination. Instead of spending your evenings watching television or movies, spend time with your friends, flatmates, or members of your community and push yourself to do things like write and perform in your own plays or establish a book club. If you're feeling like you want to waste your weekend away by drinking, why not try salsa dancing, stand-up comedy, or reading the Kama Sutra instead? Your confidence will grow as a result of these exercises, and your discussions will be elevated above and beyond the typical small talk and chit-chat.
Buy book - Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Written by BrookPad Team based on Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi