Notes on Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly
Ch. 1 – In the quest for happiness, partial solutions don’t work.
Ch. 2 – Csikszentmihaly uses a “phenomenological model of consciousness based on information theory.”
Consciousness is intentionally ordered information.
Intentions have a hierarchy and can be overridden. The drive for food can be submerged if there is something more important for the person – a hunger strike is one example.
Attention is singular, or things get jumbled. (No one is good at multi-tasking.)
The mind can only process about 126 bits of information at once. A speaker will usually speak at 40 bits a second, but everything else around the speaker, like body language, slides, and other sounds also need to be processed. Information processing may be able to use chunking to its advantage. However, the fact is that people can only process so much, and that means that what they allow into their awareness is important.
What people pay attention to shapes who they become and who they become shapes what they pay attention to. Consciousness is circular.
Psychic entropy are the emotions that cause someone to lose focus on his or her goals. These emotions cause disorder.
The flow is the optimal experience.
After each flow experience, the person becomes a more unique individual in possession of rarer skills. The person becomes both more differentiated and more integrated, even if these seem to be opposing qualities. The person becomes more selfless and more unique.
Ch. 3 – To improve life, one must improve the quality of the experience. Pleasure is easy; enjoyment requires attention.
There are eight components to enjoyment:
b. Minutes seem like hours
One or more of these is described in experiences that are also described as enjoyable.
Reading is described as being enjoyable. It requires concentration and has a goal.
Being with people is also enjoyable – socializing requires skill.
It is simple to find challenge in competition, enjoyment ends when beating the opponent is the primary goal. The goal should be to perform well regardless of the skill and performance of the opponent. Competition is only enjoyable when it is used as a means to perfect oneself. The competition cannot be an end in and of itself.
Everyday activities can be made enjoyable. The must have goals, rules and other elements to become enjoyable.
Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety.
Action and awareness must become one.
“Unless a person learns to set goals and to recognize and feedback in such (any) activities, she will not enjoy them.” p. 55
Internal guidelines can create flow.
Intense concentration is required.
“There was nothing we could do about our problems till we reached the next part” so why worry? Pg. 59 (connectedness) (lost the ability to hide)
Consequences are minor for flow activity – no fear of losing the house or getting fired.
Ch. 4 – The flow occurs when there is a sense of discovery p. 67
In competition, the goal must be personal and not beating the opponent
Family could help with attaining enjoyment from an early age
Center attention externally
Ch. 5 – learning to use the body is the easiest way to achieve flow.
Senses may also be trained to obtain flow
Enjoyment depends on how you do something not what you are doing
Less expensive materials mean greater enjoyment
Without cultivating the necessary skills, one cannot expect to take true enjoyment in a pursuit p. 108
Ch. 6 – Video games meet flow conditions
Flow isn’t always good
Daydreaming can be used to achieve flow. P. 120
It also allows thoughts and solutions to be explored
“Playing with ideas is extremely exhilarating” p. 127
Corn and politics do not share the same ways p. 141 Soviet Union – when politics got involved in where, when and how to plant corn, crops failed.
Ch. 7 – Italian proverb “Work gives man nobility and turns him into an animal.”
Work can be flow if challenging.
Challenges can be found.
Three main work complaints:
Growth requires use of skills
“Passive entertainment leads nowhere.”
Ch. 8 – Work and relationships with others make us who we are
“The worst sanction the community can issue is shunning.’
Everyone feels more alive when surrounded with other people.
“Human relations are malleable.”
Time spent alone is an anathema to happiness – learning to use that time to grow can help
Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.
You need rules to enjoy life.
Enjoyment fosters growth
Ch. 9 – Order to beat chaos
Resiliency could be found in
o know self limits
o Unity with surroundings
To get into the flow –
Ch. 10 – The meaning of life is meaning.
The meaning of life is intentionality
Lack of resolve devalues choice