FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Version: Abridged
Author: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Narrator: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Genres: Self Development
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio/Nightingale-Conant
Published In: July 2002
# of Units: 2 CDs
Length: 2 hours
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The world's foremost producer of personal development and motivational audio programs gives you the tools to unleash the secret of peak performance.

Remember the last time that you were so focused, so motivated that you felt at the absolute top of your form -- alert, energized and free of self-consciousness? Chances are you were experiencing flow -- an almost euphoric state of concentration and complete involvement.

Now, esteemed psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi reveals how you can achieve this state of mind at will -- and turn everyday experience into a moment by moment opportunity for joy and self-fulfillment. Drawing on over 30 years of breakthrough research into what makes people satisfied, he explains the key elements of the flow experience, including how to:

Use flow to release yourself from anxiety and boredom
Redirect your energy and take control
Set clear goals
Harmonize all the elements of your life

Reviews (6)

Great overview (but not the book)

Written by Eryc Eyl on July 17th, 2014

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Obviously, at just 2 CDs, this title is NOT the same as the book of the same name. This, however, is a fantastic introduction to the concept of flow. Csikszentmihalyi gives a solid overview of the conditions necessary for flow, the qualities of a complex personality (people who are more likely to enjoy the flow state), and habits of autotelic people. You're just skimming the surface in 2 hours, but use this to determine if you want to go into greater depth.


Written by Anonymous on May 17th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 1/5

The book was disappointed, it was just waste of time the accent of author was hard to understand , of course it has a deceiving title but it is vague. and very confusing.

FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Written by Anonymous from Salt Lake City, UT on February 7th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 2/5

Unfortunately this audio book was a bit of a disappointment. I was expecting a far more indepth study on the physiological aspects of Flow as well as a discussion on how to achieve it. Both were present in small quantities but not enough to do the book justice. Don't listen to this title, read it.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Written by kk2again on October 28th, 2004

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Like many personal development, motivational titles (if not "self-help"), gives the "juice" while listening, but fades quickly. If you could replay the tape on a continuum, the concepts he exposes, and reinforces, might change your tactics.

FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience [abr]

Written by Anonymous from HOUSTON, TX on October 20th, 2004

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Pronunciation of the author is hard to understand, and the recording quality is poor. Contents are the usual motivational pep talk. If you have listened similar talk before don't waste your time again.

Good advice that is somewhat hard to follow

Written by Anonymous from New Buffalo, MI on September 2nd, 2004

  • Book Rating: 3/5

This is a well-thought-out topic. At times, it was hard to focus on this cd as several concepts were laid out as a series of numbered sub-concepts. Once I got beyond trying to memorize them, and focused on the general message, the cd became much more clear in its purpose.

Author Details

Author Details

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly

"Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced ""ME-high CHICK-sent-me-high-ee""; but don't worry, there won't be a quiz) is a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. He came to popular attention when his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience was mentioned on the 1993 Super Bowl broadcast as having inspired the coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

According to Professor Csikszentmihalyi, a joyful life ""is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe....Happiness, in fact, is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person.""

""Many people feel that the time they spend at work is essentially wasted?they are alienated from it, and the psychic energy invested in the job does nothing to strengthen their self,"" he observes. ""For quite a few people free time is also wasted. Leisure provides a relaxing respite from work, but it generally consists of passively absorbing information, without using any skills or exploring new opportunities for action. As a result life passes in a sequence of boring and anxious experiences over which a person has little control.""

But it doesn't have to be this way. During his years of research the professor has identified a state of happiness that he calls ""flow."" When an individual is engaged in a well defined task of his own choosing that is both challenging and within his capacities, he will experience ""optimal experience"" during its performance. This is ""flow.""

A flow-type experience includes one or more of the following features. (1) A task we have a possibility of completing. (2) Ability to concentrate on the task. (3) The task has clear goals and provides immediate feedback. (4) We act from a deep but effortless involvement that removes quotidian concerns. (5) We have a sense of control. (6) Concern for self disappears during the task, but the sense of self is stronger after the flow experience is over. (7) The sense of the passage of time alters.

""For more than 30 years I have been studying happiness,"" says Csikszentmihalyi. ""My interest in this subject came from my own experience during World War II when, as a child, I saw many adults being completely destroyed by the tragic events of the war. Among these people there were always a few who kept their courage, reached out to help others, and were able to give a sense of purpose and meaning to their lives. I wanted to discover about how one could build a life that was more fulfilling and enjoyable. I chose the discipline of psychology to seek out some answers.""

In Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, the professor explores what makes life worth living through interviews with the great achievers of our time. His research confirms that people are most likely to experience ""flow"" when immersed in creative work that they love. Csikszentmihalyi thus provides a scientific basis for the experience of the fictional Howard Roark, for whom the job of architecture is a combination of ""holy sacrament, Indian torture and sexual ecstasy.""

In the search for life, happiness, and meaning there are many mentors available to us. Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is one of the greatest."