By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
*A Book Review*
by Michael C. Gray
© 2023 by Michael C. Gray
Do you feel like you're not getting the enjoyment that you should out of life?
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (I can't pronounce it either) has been studying The Psychology of Optimal Experience for decades and has put his findings in his book, Flow.
Flow isn't a recipe for happiness. It's a presentation of general principles, together with stories giving concrete examples of how some people have used those principles to transform boring, unrewarding lives into lives full of enjoyment.
It's a book about self-examination to achieve the "Know Thyself" (better) state suggested by the Ancient Greeks at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
The ideal of "the pursuit of happiness" has been sought for ages. According to Csikszentmihalyi, techniques for achieving optimal experience, such as yoga, Zen Buddhism and Christian monastic teachings, may have been appropriate and helpful in their own time, but lose some of their power in the current environment. They can become ritual form over substance.
As conditions change, we should rethink and reformulate what it takes to establish autonomy in consciousness.
Seeking optimal experience might mean dealing with less than optimal circumstances. What if you have poor health, an unattractive appearance and/or your broke? Most of us have heard about people who have overcome those difficulties and still lead rewarding lives. Csikszentmihalyi explores their experiences and how we can apply what they learned ourselves.
Some of the great geniuses, like Picasso and Bobby Fischer, have been productive at their special interests and dysfunctional in others, like social relationships. Csikszentmihalyi explores controlling consciousness to turn all life into a unified flow experience. In the past, traditional faith played a role to help people deal with the stresses of life. Today we can discover a unified purpose to give meaning to our lives.
Self-examination and self-discovery are worthwhile activities. Flow can be a useful guide for that process.
Buy it at Amazon: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
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