Flow Book Summary - Flow Book explained in key points
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Flow summary

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The Psychology of Optimal Experience

4.4 (952 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

'Flow' by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a book that explores the concept of 'flow' - a state of complete absorption and enjoyment in an activity. Csikszentmihalyi provides insights on how to achieve this state and how it relates to our overall well-being.

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    Flow
    Summary of 10 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 10

    We use religion and luxury to hide from an indifferent, meaningless world.

    When we view our lives from a distance, they seem insignificant. And when we examine them closely, we notice that we’re unhappy and unfulfilled. To help us cope, most of us look for comfort in religion or we seek external rewards, like wealth or fame.

    While this approach seems to make sense, it can also lead to us abandoning our critical faculties.

    For example, while organized religions like Christianity and Islam have provided us with rules to live by and given our lives meaning, our firsthand discovery of our predicament in the universe has shown the principles of religion to be wrong. Still, many people continue to follow religious ideologies because they’re more comfortable thinking of life as meaningful.

    Also, many empires and cultures led their citizens to believe they’d mastered their fates – for instance, the Romans at the height of their power and the Chinese before the Mongol invasion. Although this belief comforted people, it proved completely wrong as each of these civilizations collapsed.

    And if we’re not hiding behind religion or political ideology to avoid the pointlessness of our lives, we’re struggling to acquire external rewards like power, wealth or fame. But these don’t satisfy us for very long either.

    Certainly we live in luxurious times and people from the past wouldn’t believe the conveniences that modern life provides. But having more money and acquiring more stuff doesn’t seem to make us happier. As one study showed, satisfaction with life doesn’t correlate strongly with being wealthy. You don’t need to look far to see evidence of this: just think about the number of rich patients that psychiatrists treat regularly.

    So in order to give our lives meaning, we try to change the environment around us, whether by displaying our wealth to impress others or chasing powerful positions. Yet these all fail to sustain our happiness.

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    What is Flow about?

    Flow (1990) explores how we can experience enjoyment in our lives by controlling our attention and strengthening our resolve. This is achieved by being immersed in an activity or subject that makes us neither anxious (if it’s too hard), nor bored (if it’s too easy). In this “flow state” we lose our self-consciousness, selfishness and sense of time. Using goal-setting and immediate feedback, we can achieve a state of flow that improves our relationship with work, increases our self-worth and gives our lives meaning.

    Flow Review

    Flow (1990) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is an insightful book that explores the concept of optimal experience and how to achieve it. Here are three reasons why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • With its thought-provoking insights and research-based evidence, it offers a fresh perspective on finding happiness and fulfillment in everyday life.
    • The book provides practical strategies for creating flow, helping readers understand how to improve their focus, productivity, and overall well-being.
    • Combining scientific studies, personal stories, and practical advice, Flow is an engaging and accessible read that keeps you engaged from start to finish.

    Who should read Flow?

    • Anyone who wants to be more engaged with their relationships, their work or the world
    • Anyone aiming to rise out of mediocrity and gain mastery over something
    • Anyone who wants to know how their health can be improved by ancient wisdom and diverse cultures

    About the Author

    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a professor of psychology with a PhD from the University of Chicago. He has been described as the global leader in research on positive psychology, creativity and motivation. His other books based on this research include Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention and Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life.

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    Flow FAQs 

    What is the main message of Flow?

    The main message of Flow is that true happiness and fulfillment can be achieved by engaging in activities that create a state of flow.

    How long does it take to read Flow?

    The reading time for Flow varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Flow a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Flow is a must-read for anyone looking to unlock their potential and enhance their overall well-being. It provides valuable insights and practical guidance.

    Who is the author of Flow?

    The author of Flow is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

    What to read after Flow?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Flow, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Mindset by Carol Dweck
    • How to Think More Effectively by The School of Life
    • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
    • Living in Flow by Sky Nelson-Isaacs
    • Retrain Your Brain by Seth J. Gillihan
    • The Power of Discipline by Daniel Walter
    • Great Thinkers by The School of Life
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
    • Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar