Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Several years ago, I saw one of those little blurbs in the newspaper where the reporter asks a few people what they’re reading at the moment. One person said he’d just read Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and that it was a book that changed his life. That’s a pretty powerful statement, so I felt like I needed to check it out. And while I wouldn’t exactly say these books changed my life, they have changed the way I view my leisure time and my time at work.
In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, the author describes the state of becoming so involved with what you’re doing that you lose track of time. And he describes the usual factors that contribute to this experience: engaging with a project that is neither too easy nor too difficult, and that involves a certain amount of challenge. And the surprising finding is that more people experience flow while they are at work than when they are at play. Because most of us don’t know how to play well! (That’s my dumbed-down interpretation.) For example, watching TV: not good. Practicing a skill or working on a hobby that challenges you: very good indeed.
In Finding Flow, the follow-up book, Csikszentmihalyi tells you… well… how to find flow. Both books are important in the lovely field of positive psychology. Because I like the practical application stuff, the one I purchased for my home library is Finding Flow. But I’m very glad I read Flow first, because it lays the groundwork that adds great value to the second book.