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Finding Flow


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Table of Contents

* The Structures of Everyday Life * The Content of Experience * How We Feel When Doing Different Things * The Paradox of Work * The Risks and Opportunities of Leisure * Relationships and the Quality of Life * Changing the Patterns of Life * The Autotelic Personality * The Love of Fate

About the Author

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is professor of psychology and education at the University of Chicago. He is the author of a number of books, including the bestselling Flow, The Evolving Self, Creativity, and Being Adolescent.


While many self-help books purport to tell readers how to find happiness, few such titles can claim to be based on any scientifically valid, large-scale studies. One of the happy exceptions was University of Chicago psychologist Csikszentmihalyi's Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (LJ 3/15/90). There the author published the results of studies using the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), in which he found that people were happiest when most absorbed in their actions, a state the author termed flow. The current book (part of Basic's series purporting to present "a crystallization of a lifetime's work and thought" by noted scholars) presents similar material, but with an emphasis slightly shifted toward practical applications of the ESM findings. Public librarians should check their shelves: if their copies of Flow are tattered or nonexistent, they should definitely buy this new title; if they have a decent copy of the older book, this is still a recommended purchase. Academic libraries need to have the author's more scholarly book but will find this popular with undergraduates.‘Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, Wash.

Csikszentmihalyi's theories of flow, elucidated in his Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990), have been immensely influential for their ideas about an accessible, optimal, Zen-like state of being. In this useful, self-help follow-up to Flow, he extends some of those ideas, arguing that while our lives are shaped by age, gender and social position, our actions and attitudes, and consequently our emotions, are ours to choose. Csikszentmihalyi encourages readers to set goals, to be truly engaged in living. Believing that our technologically advanced society emphasizes individualism, he makes a convincing case for becoming deeply involved with other people and with everyday activities. It is this mundane immersion, according to Csikszentmihalyi, that can carry us beyond an ephemeral sense of happiness to a fundamental sense of flow. The author includes excellent notes and references. (May)

"Csikszentmihalyi eloquently argues that living fully in the here and now requires that one heed the lessons of the past"--New York Times Book Review
"Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has a genius for illuminating phenomena that perplex most behavioral scientists. In this brilliant synthesis, he shows how all of us can enhance our work, our play, our lives."--Howard Gardner, author of Multiple Intelligences
"Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a man obsessed by happiness."--Richard Flaste, New York Times Magazine
"This famous psychologist of 'peak experience' returns to the themes of his 1990 classic, Flow, how to reach the peak through focused energy, and how humans mark the universe in unique ways-but this time the explanation is shorter, sharper, and far more accessible."--Utne Reader

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