Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

By Andrea Seydel The Book Doula

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Think about a time when you experienced deep enjoyment, creativity, and total involvement with life. Where you were so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter? The experience is so enjoyable. You were probably in a state of FLOW.

Often people feel like their lives are being wasted instead of being filled with happiness. Do you often feel bored or anxious or like you are wasting time? The question becomes, How can we make sure our life is worth living? How can we make ourselves happier?

The book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and significantly improve the quality of our lives. Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance.


A meaningful life is when the person spends his time in a state of optimal experience called Flow. To live a great life, all your goals must be unified in a way that produces the maximum amount of Flow.

We are adding more happiness to our day by improving our experiences. Subjective experiences are life itself. Happiness is not a constant state of mind. It must be cultivated and defended. Are you ready to learn how to transform any task into a flow experience for long-lasting happiness?

We are going to cover: What is Flow. 5 Principles to transform activity into Flow. How to make Flow the norm. How to create Flow out of chaos. Finally, how to live with Flow.

Key Take-aways

What is FLOW?

  • Flow is when you're so investing in a project that you lose track of time. IN THE ZONE

  • To achieve Flow, you need three things: 1. Realistic goals 2. Your skills match the opportunities for action 3., Complete focus is on the activity

  • Flow happens when your skill matches the difficulty of the task. If too difficult=Anxious. When too easy= bored.

  • You cannot experience Flow without investing your attention. Attention is what selects the information to absorb to continue being In the zone.

  • The more an activity looks like a game, the more enjoyable it becomes.

5 Principles to transform activity into Flow

1. Define the goals of the activity- create a major goal and as many subgoals as needed.

2. Find ways to measure progress-create mechanisms to track your progress.

3. Concentrate on the task at hand- dedicate your full attention to the task.

4. Develop the skills needed to make progress-make an effort to improve every skill required.

5. Keep raising the stakes- once you achieve your goals, repeat this and make even bolder goals.

Make Flow the norm

  • You can experience Flow in almost every setting. Try to maximize your time inflow. Develop AUTOTELIC (self) (goals) Personality. Find objectives from within. See potential threats as enjoyable challenges. Get involved with what is going on in the moment.

  • Become an Autotelic Person: 1. set better goals-intrinsic goals. 2. Become immersed in the activity. 3. Pay attention to what is happening-concentrate at will. 4. Enjoy the immediate experience-take the most out of each experience.

  • Work produces more flow experiences than leisure time. People at work feel skillful and challenged and feel more happy, strong, creative, and satisfied. Work structured like a game. The quality of work experience can be transformed at will.

  • Recognize opportunities for action and develop skills, turn boring activities into opportunities to get to know them better. It creates a layer of complexity. Make jobs and activities resemble a game- with variety, appropriate and flexible challenges, clear goals, and immediate feedback- the more enjoyable it will be.

HOW TO LIVE IN FLOW- To approach optimal experiences as close as possible, we need to step in the control of consciousness. Try to turn all life into a united flow experience.

Creating Flow out of chaos

Along the path to happiness, Tragedies are inevitable. To overcome difficulties, we need to learn how to shift our attention to what matters. Significant events can either: Destroy the self and its ambitions. Provide a new and clear goal- to overcome the new challenge.

Focus your attention on the new opportunities!! You can turn terrible situations into a new Flow activity; By taking control, you will be able to enjoy the journey and emerge on the other side stronger.

To transform tragedies into flow opportunities, you need

1. Unselfconscious self-assurance-Face challenge believing you can change the outcome.

2. To focus your attention on the world-shift your attention away from yourself so you won't focus on your internal struggles. Find a better way to adapt to the problem.

3. To discover new solutions- don't focus your attention on the new obstacles in the way of achieving your goals, evaluate the situation, then take time to explore alternative goals that are more appropriate for the time being.

Actionable Nuggets