Book Review – Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Published 1990, Republished 2008

Flow was originally published in 1990. Not reading it until 2011, I missed the original hype and exuberance associated with it. It is like many books that draw from large area of research and draw a common, larger theme out of the material–lots of interesting data but easy to lose “flow” while reading. For this book, I found the mountain of material to be higher than Everest and Mihaly says as much when he talks about having written the book for the “general reader.” His span of experience is broad covering many scientific disciplines, religions, cultures, etc. and I believe that much of the research on human behavior resonates. However, I can’t help but sense that something is missing in this book. The nature of the mind and the research in the first third of the book provide a solid background of the concept of “flow” and “optimal experience”. The remainder of the book was a struggle to finish. Perhaps someone like me, who considers themselves very happy, struggles to find substantial application with what is written. For me to follow one of his suggestion, which is to cast off certain belief systems in search of a new “system” is a contradiction with no value.

Rating: ♦♦◊◊◊

Recommendation: Read to be current on psychology but not to point the way.

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