Saturday, April 9, 2011

Flow: The psycology of optimal exerience

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience.
New York: Harper Perennial.

Book’s main ideas/arguments:
This book is a fantastic look into the human soul and give sound advice as to what is truly important. Csikszentmihalyi central argument is that human beings should create meaning in their life through their “flow” experiences. Flow is the activity that one participates in where one losses track of time and becomes fully engaged in the act. Similar to Pink, Csikszentmihalyi speaks not only on autonomy, master, and purpose but goes much further in detail about how to create it in one’s own life. This book takes a deep look into how we interpret events.
“What I ‘discovered’ was that happiness is not something that happens. It is not the result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy or power command. It does not depend on outside events, but rather, on how we interpret them” (2)
He defines something called the “autotelic experience” derived from auto meaning self and telos meaning goal. These are experiences in which “are done not with the expectation of some future benefit, but simply because the doing itself is the reward” (67) Flow activities encompass autotelic experiences as people lose themselves in flow due to being engaged in the activity and not because there are consequences associated with it. These activities should also be ones in which a person could continually improve ones own skill and approach the level of mastery. The activities increase life’s complexity and keep things interesting. Contrary to the popular belief, recreational time is actually more difficult to find flow experiences as we seldom know what to do with our time. Whereas, in the work place one must hone her skill and constantly improve it is much easier to find flow. This optimal experience exists between anxiety and boredom.
A must read for everyone.

“The most important step in emancipating oneself from social controls is the ability to find rewards in the events of each moment. If a person learns to enjoy and find meaning in the ongoing stream of experience, in the process of living itself, the burden of social controls automatically falls from one’s shoulders.” (19)
I feel that this is one of the main themes of the book. One should look at the each moment and each task and to find meaning within. He talks about people who have the ability to find enjoyment and meaning in some of the most depraved circumstances. Our quality of life depends on how the mind filters everyday experiences. If we could take charge of what happens in the mind we could control our level of happiness.
“Learning to use time alone, instead of escaping from it, is especially important in our early years. Teenagers who can’t bear solitude disqualify themselves from latter carrying out adult tasks that require serious mental preparation” (171)
How do we get students to become engaged in their work and what they are able to create with their lives instead of heading home and turning on the television or finding other forms of distraction? How do we teach students to use their time alone?

No comments:

Post a Comment