Do you know that feeling of being so enthusiastic and involved in some activity that you do not even feel the hours go by?
Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi gained notoriety after his extensive research on human behavior and motivation resulted in what later became known as "Flow Theory." He interviewed artists, athletes, monks, and scientists, trying to understand habits that generate the state of satisfaction, well-being and engagement. What they shared had something in common: their best work came when they entered into a kind of ecstasy, when everything around them seemed to simply disappear.
Mihaly then understood this sense of a diminishing self-centered gaze coupled with a sense of happiness as a state of flow and recorded some characteristic aspects of these episodes:
In his research, documented in detail in the book "The Discovery of the Flow," Mihaly also points out that this would be an active state - intellectual or physical - and that in states of passivity, our chances of attaining that ecstasy would be lower.
If we do not have clear goals for the occupation of our time, we will naturally lose our concentration. Losing concentration, we also lose motivation, and without it, signs of anxiety begin to arise, making our minds wander through a sequence of insoluble problems.
Csikszentmihalyi also points out that: "Repression does not lead to virtue. When people repress themselves out of fear, their lives are necessarily diminished. Just by freely chosen discipline life can be harnessed and yet within the limits of reason." The discipline that comes in the "flow" is completely different from the discipline imposed.
Commonly asked about the meaning of life, Mihaly proposes that instead of seeking an esoteric explanation for our existence, let us have a subjective, personal explanation: the meaning of life is anything that is meaningful to us.
Title: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Author: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Number of pages: 334
Mihaly gave a TED presentation on his Theory of Flow and Happiness: