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Amber's Thoughts

Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series



Challenge, Not Ease, Makes Us Happy

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Absorption in work, delight in conversation and relationships, continual discovery and learning, deep present-moment awareness, a sense of purpose and meaning—who wouldn’t want that? According to Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, people often don’t realize what makes them happy, expecting happiness from what is easy. This book thoroughly explains, with both studies and individual examples, the concept of flow, the state in which those desirable, optimal experiences listed above occur. Not with ease, but with the investment of disciplined effort. He differentiates between pleasure—relatively passive and not leading to flow—and enjoyment, which is more complex, skill-based, and enriching.


The book is “old” and has not been updated to change the famous people who are used as examples, and occasionally some dated social outlooks are embedded unintentionally in the text. Society has changed a little since the 1990s, but these artifacts are inevitable in a classic, and don’t really matter. Data on work hours may change, the well-known names of the decade may fade, and social norms may shift, but that doesn’t affect the value of the science and insight. In 2016 we need to discover and encourage flow, the alternative to mental and emotional entropy, as much as we did 20 years ago. Maybe more.