Have you ever had a moment when you were so concentrated and in the zone that time flew by without you noticing it? A time when you felt an all engrossing rush of fulfillment and utter excitement? Do you know what triggers those moments?
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the cause for our experience is a phenomenon called flow. In this book, he describes the psychology behind these moments and how they influence our well being. For example, he hypothesizes that happiness is fleeting because it disappears the moment you stop doing what makes you feel elated. Simply put happiness is a feeling that doesn’t last long but that is totally worth pursing. It is in this pursuit that we grow and transform into better individuals, figuring out what motivates us and drives us to experience and achieve in a world full of possibilities.
Flow is a theory, an attempt to explain the heightened sense of focus and concentration that results from doing those activities we love and in some cases endure. It is the reason some people get up and go through their daily routine without whining or complaining; they love doing what they have to do to survive. Other people experience flow only in leisure and in these cases it is harder to maintain the feeling of accomplishment and happiness because you know that when the activities end, boring old life events will continue to permeate your existence. A bit dramatic but right on point as most people dread “adulting” mostly because they were told it had to be difficult and devoid of meaning. The trick is, as the book exposes, we are the ones who have to find and give our actions meaning and purpose to maintain and/or feed flow.
For a book 25 years old, the rethoric is still valid and holds ground. Many authors refer to this work, including Kahneman, because it is timeless; written in a time preceeding the smartphone boom and social media it was able to predict, based on TV studies, how society would find it harder to concentrate and achieve flow with the new technological distractions. My copy was reprinted and updated in 2008 to add companion materials and there is no indication that it was changed to “get with the times”. Note that as an Internet user of the early ’90s, none of the allegations about technology seem outside of the historical knowledge of the time. Therefore the relevance of the text is even more enlightening because the author made sure his findings applied to future settings and wrote it in a way it can transcend the original context.
I highly recommend this book because of the guidance it gives in regards to concentrating and achieving flow states. The examples on how a bit of perseverance and analytical thinking can help you become a better human being are very inclusive and clear. Without insinuation or judgement, the author attempts to help you find a path to fulfillment and excitement. Take his advice and you won’t go wrong.