Review of Flow

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Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s influential, book-length, research-based disquisition on the nature of human consciousness, and the obstacles people put in its path, first appeared, incredibly, in 1990. But hold the incredulity because this classic treatment reads as if it were written yesterday. Csikszentmihalyi cites current trends in self-obsession, self-healing and the search for transcendence. He seems to have unintentionally launched the industrialization and mass marketing of many contemporary self-reflective industries: martial arts, meditation, anger management, fulfillment classes, and so on. Folks want to feel better about themselves and always have, he argues. The hardest obstacle is what goes on in your head. Attitude is everything. getAbstract recommends this extraordinary depiction of the path to harmony to everyone.

About the Author

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD, is the C.S. and D.J. Davidson Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker School of Management and directs its Quality of Life Research Center. He wrote Beyond Boredom and Anxiety and Creativity and co-authored The Creative Vision, The Meaning of Things and Being Adolescent.


Your internal balance, strength and adaptability can enable you to cope with most of life’s struggles, including distracted or self-destructive inner voices and outer urges. As Csikszentmihalyi stresses in his introduction, Flow isn’t a guide to achieving happiness. It’s a description of how people attain flow – deep concentrated and pleasurable immersion in an activity – and the mental, emotional and physical methods they employed.

Curiously, Csikszentmihalyi’s anonymous case studies are less compelling than his personal insights. His sense of flow is, at times, the athletic, creative, sexual and spiritual state of oneness between doing and being that New Age books describe. But this is no New Age polemic. Csikszentmihalyi soberly dissects ideal states of psychological and spiritual harmony with an academic’s eye for detail and a poet’s understanding of human foibles.

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