Monday, November 21, 2005

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

This book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was originally published in 1990. I bought it because of an article about the book in FastCompany Magazine several months ago. I took the book with me to read at our company's manager's retreat in September. I was reading it poolside and ran into one of my colleagues who was reading Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind. Later that evening when we ran into each other in the bar, he told me the book he was reading had referenced the book that I was reading! This says something about the relevance of these ideas even today. Unlike other concepts and theories that go in and out of fashion, those in Flow have been recycled, repackaged and resold to a new generation in Daniel Pink's new book (which I also thoroughly enjoyed.)

This is not an easy read. It's not pop psychology and it takes a great deal of concentration to understand the theories he puts forth. I found it very slow going, but a wonderful journey of discovery. At the base of all we do is the quest for happiness. The author really delves into when we are truly happiest and how we don't consciously realize those states that make us happiest . Therefore we tend to pursue all the wrong things in this elusive quest to be happy. Things that stretch us and stress us are often those things we look back on and realize were situations in which we were truly engaged, happily and totally invested in that place, time and endeavor. This book really is very significant as a foundation for understanding so many other things. No doubt that's why other writers are still talking about it.

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