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Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Your Price: $21.99 CDN
Author: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 336
Pub. Date: 2008
ISBN-10: 0061339202
ISBN-13: 9780061339202

About the Book:

Many of us know what it's like to be in a state of creative flow. But do you have to wait for inspiration to strike, or can you hack the zone?

You may recall a feeling of exhilaration during periods of inspired acting; you felt at one with the material, your partners, and the audience. Indeed, there is something special happening to creative people when they are completely engaged in the process of creating something new. Musicians, athletes, actors, doctors and artists describe how they are happiest when they are absorbed in an often exhausting activity – totally contradicting the commonly held view that happiness has to do with relaxation.

The psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, wrote: "While happiness itself is sought for its own sake, every other goal – health, beauty, money or power – is valued only because we expect that it will make us happy."

One composer told Dr. C, as he is sometimes called, how, when his work was going well, he experienced a kind of ecstasy. He didn't need to think, he lost track of time and the music would "just flow out." Dr. C heard athletes, poets, chess players describe the same phenomenon. He looked for a term that described the state of feeling happy. He called it flow.

But when are we in the flow? His famous investigations have revealed that we can experience flow whenever we are fully engaged with our work or hobbies or relationships. Happiness, or flow, occurs when we are:

intensely focused on an activity (busy, but not rushed)
of our own choosing, that is
neither under-challenging ("you find yourself bored") nor over-challenging ("you get stressed"), that has
a clear objective and that receives
immediate feedback.

We are more likely to access the flow state when engaged in tasks we've already practiced. Think of the expert figure skater on the rink or the confident singer at the microphone. Actors study methodologies in order to purposely place themselves in this trance-like altered state of total absorption and effortless concentration as opposed to it being a happy accident.

Dr. C discovered that people who are in the flow not only feel a profound sense of satisfaction, they also lose track of time and forget themselves completely because they are so immersed in what they are doing. Some people also call this period of hyperfocus being in the zone. Whether you call it flow or the zone, it's not just a state of mind. In this revised edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Dr. C demonstrates the ways this positive state of flow can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience enables you to understand and harness flow with your unique individuality to create a profound and positive impact on your respective acting and life journeys.

What people say:

"Inspiring" — Chicago Sun-Times

"It rethinks what motivates people" — Newsweek

"Explore[s] a happy state of mind called flow, the feeling of complete engagement in a creative or playful activity." — Time

About the Author:

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a Hungarian-born American psychologist. He recognized and named the psychological concept of flow, a highly focused mental state conducive to productivity. He is the Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. He is the former head of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago and of the department of sociology and anthropology at Lake Forest College.