Flow – Achieving Happiness

I’m currently reading the book “Flow” from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The subtitle is “The classic work on how to achieve happiness”, so it seemed like a good book to read. Not to say that I’m not happy, on the contrary, but there is always room for improvement when it comes to topics like this one.

I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but so far, it’s very interesting. It’s also at times a bit long-winded. Mainly when reading through the elaborate examples takes a couple of hours, which in my case most of the time means that it takes several days just to get through the examples. I didn’t find flow while reading those parts :).
I’ll try to write a couple of posts about the bits that I did find interesting though. A good reason to write a blog post is always to be able to find something that you might want to get back to later. Also, I quite often experience flow while writing a post, which means it lets me experience happiness.
And perhaps others find it interesting, enjoyable or inspiring too, which would be a bonus!

The book, of course, starts by explaining when you’re most likely to experience flow.

  • When you can fully concentrate on a single task or activity
  • When you know you will be able to complete the task, but it still provides sufficient challenge (it’s not boring)
  • When you don’t feel self-conscious

A good example for me is that I can experience flow Mirjam Tennis
when I’m playing tennis. I like to constantly improve myself and very much enjoy practicing. It is also possible to find flow while playing a match, as long as you’re more focused on the process than the outcome. I’m not too good at that and thus don’t really enjoy playing matches.

Running is another activity that lets me experience flow. It allows me to set a challenge depending on how I feel, or how much time I want to spend running when I go out. I can focus on sticking to a certain pace, ensuring that I run a certain distance, or go out for intervals and try to survive (anyone who has ever done intervals will understand that).

It is also possible to experience flow from for instance studying beautiful paintings, reading or writing poetry, cooking or eating wonderful food, dancing or listening to music. Reading all these examples made me think about many different things that I would like to spend (more) time on like going to museums, baking cakes, reading and playing golf. I’m pretty sure I could easily fill my days if they were twice as long!

At least that gives me plenty of motivation to start the next book I want to read, which is “Busy” by Tony Crabbe…

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