Books

The secret ingredient of happiness: Flow

The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains his famous finding from his hard-working research in this book: Flow—The Psychology of Optimal Experience. This book has been published in 1990, 1991 and 2008. This book has been one of the national best selling books since it was published in 1990. Csikszentmihalyi has discovered the secret ingredient of happiness from his hard-working global research that has lasted 10 years. He has named this ingredient as “Flow—the psychology of optimal.”

Title: Flow—The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Author: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
First published time: 1990

Flow
Flow

Csikszentmihalyi has discovered the secret ingredient of happiness from his hard-working global research that has lasted 10 years. He has named this ingredient as “Flow—the psychology of optimal experience“ and he has shared his research finding on the in-depth level within every facet in this book.

There are 10 chapters in this book: “Happiness Revisited,” “The Anatomy of Consciousness,” “Enjoyment and the Quality of Life,” “The Conditions of Flow,” “The Body in Flow,” “The Flow of Thought,” “Work as Flow,” “Enjoying Solitude and Other People,” “Cheating Chaos,” and “The Making of Meaning.”

In the first chapter, which is “Happiness Revisited”, Csikszentmihalyi asks the readers an ancient question: “What is the happiness?” Then he gives his answer: “Flow—the psychology of optimal experience.”

Then in the next chapter, “The Anatomy of Consciousness”, Csikszentmihalyi introduces the concept of consciousness. In this chapter, he fully explains “the limits of consciousness”, “attention at consciousness as psychic energy”, and “order in consciousness is flow”.

In chapter 3, “Enjoyment and the Quality of Life”, Csikszentmihalyi first demonstrates the relationship between consciousness and flow, and the connection between enjoyment and flow. Then he compares the concept of enjoyment and happiness, clarifies the difference between enjoyment and happiness, and explains the relationship of consciousness, flow, and happiness. Finally, he states when human beings are able to control their consciousness, in other words, they invest their psychic energy on activities, and they build the flow. Then they will achieve the moments of happiness in their hearts.

In the rest of chapters, Csikszentmihalyi uses a lot of case studies, interviews and research data to explain the relationship of consciousness, flow and happiness on an in-depth level of “Conditions of Flow,” “The Body in Flow,” “The Flow of Thought,” “Work as Flow,” “Enjoying Solitude and Other People,” “Heating Chaos,” and “The Making of Meaning.”

How to Produce the Flow
How to Produce the Flow

I have drawn this illustration of How to Produce the Flow to demonstrate the concepts of this book. The yellow line shows the flow. Flow or happiness is constantly produced when the human being invests the psychic energy or focus on consciousness on activities to meet the maximum challenge he or she is able to afford or handle. The red area means too anxious. When the human being meets the over-difficult challenge, he or she does not invest enough psychic energy on activities, he or she would feel anxious or burned. In the other hand, when the human being meets the easy challenge, and he or she invests too much psychic energy on activities, he or she would feel bored, which the gray area means.

I have chosen this book to prepare a UX book club meeting in this month. When I had finished the first three chapters, I totally agreed and accepted the concepts in this book about flow, psychic energy, and focus on consciousness. I felt I have been practicing these concepts in my life and my career for a long time before I have known them. Then I have scanned the rest of the chapters to understand deeply in every facet of these concepts. I have learned from this book how to provide flow experience in my design solution in order to keep the users happy.

 

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