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Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience



Csikszentmihalyi interviewed athletes, musicians, and artists because he wanted to know when they experienced optimal performance levels. He was also interested in finding out how they felt during these experiences.




Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience


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The experience of flow in everyday life is an important component of creativity and wellbeing. Indeed, it can be described as a key aspect of eudaimonia, or self-actualization, in an individual. Since it is intrinsically rewarding, the more you practice it, the more you seek to replicate these experiences, which help lead to a fully engaged and happy life. Download 3 Free Positive Psychology Exercises (PDF)Enhance wellbeing with these free, science-based exercises that draw on the latest insights from positive psychology.


Those aspects can appear independently of each other, but only in combination do they constitute a so-called flow experience. Additionally, psychology writer Kendra Cherry has mentioned three other components that Csíkszentmihályi lists as being a part of the flow experience:[6]


Mihaly Csikszentmihályi and others began researching flow after Csikszentmihályi became fascinated by artists who would essentially get lost in their work.[9] Artists, especially painters, got so immersed in their work that they would disregard their need for food, water and even sleep. The theory of flow came about when Csikszentmihályi tried to understand the phenomenon experienced by these artists. Flow research became prevalent in the 1980s and 1990s, with Csikszentmihályi and his colleagues in Italy still at the forefront. Researchers interested in optimal experiences and emphasizing positive experiences, especially in places such as schools and the business world, also began studying the theory of flow at this time.[5]


The flow state has been described by Csikszentmihályi as the "optimal experience" in that one gets to a level of high gratification from the experience.[3] Achieving this experience is considered to be personal and "depends on the ability" of the individual.[3] One's capacity and desire to overcome challenges in order to achieve their ultimate goals leads not only to the optimal experience but also to a sense of life satisfaction overall.[3]


In 1987, Massimini, Csíkszentmihályi and Carli published the eight-channel model of flow .[25] Antonella Delle Fave, who worked with Fausto Massimini at the University of Milan, calls this graph the Experience Fluctuation Model.[26] The model depicts the channels of experience that result from different levels of perceived challenges and perceived skills. The graph illustrates another aspect of flow: it is more likely to occur when the activity is a higher-than-average challenge (above the center point) and the individual has above-average skills (to the right of the center point).[16] The center of the graph where the sectors meet represents the average level of challenge and skill across all individual daily activities. The further from the center an experience is, the greater the intensity of that state of being, whether it is flow or anxiety or boredom or relaxation.[19]


The concept of being in the zone during an athletic performance fit within Csíkszentmihályi's description of the flow experience, and theories and applications of being in the zone and its relationship with an athletic competitive advantage are topics studied in the field of sport psychology.[52] In a qualitative study of NCAA Division I athletes on the experience of flow, 94% of the athletes described flow state as causing a merging of action and awareness, and that it was effortless and automatic.[53]


To our knowledge, this is the first study to connect the flow construct from positive psychology, with place identity from environmental psychology. Results obtained from the present study enhance the existing literature, by suggesting that being involved in place-located activities that bring people to flow is related to their personal growth in a specific place. The relation of the activity experience (like flow) with respect to the sense of identity, the gist of EIT, has been usually focused on the personal identity level (Waterman, 1990a, 1992, 1993a; Waterman et al., 2003; Schwartz, 2006; Schwartz and Waterman, 2006; Mao et al., 2016a), and sparsely on the social identity level (Mao et al., 2016b). However, the present contribution has extended this to the place level: the findings support our main hypothesis and are in line with the previous limited studies.


The key element of an activity that leads to optimal experience is that it is a self-contained activity, one that is done not with the expectation of some future benefit, but simply because the doing itself is the reward.


Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience" have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.


Science has discovered that our happiness is not influenced very much by the level of luxury in our lives. When scientists analyzed the happiness level of many people such as artists and athletes, they discovered that people feel most happy while they are having an optimal experience. Optimal experience is what the sailor feels as the wind whips through her hair, and the boat lunges through the waves like a colt.


Legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience" have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi ("the leading researcher into 'flow states'" --Newsweek) demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness, unlock our potential, and greatly improve the quality of our lives. 041b061a72


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