Flow: A Brief Note

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

This is a summary of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990).

Universe: empty, huge, not friendly, not hostile, simply indifferent.

>> Past: religion, ethnic traditions, habits by social classes (pain, mitigating)

>> Present: corporation, churches, advertisers; nature, sexuality, security, political, social control (pleasure, increasing)

>> Solution: free from social reward of flow under own power

“If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb your own judgment of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgment now.” -author

Culture: defensive constructions against chaos (to reduce the randomness)

Psychic energy: focus relevant info in millions (attention) >> evaluate >> do right thing

Psychic entropy: info disrupts consciousness >> inner disorder >< Negentropy

Autotelic (self-goal): self-contained activity, not external

Pleasure: contentment by bio/social (external) condition >< Enjoyment: forward movement by novelty and accomplishment

Enjoyment 8 components

1. Challenging but completable tasks

2. Concentration

3. Clear goals

4. Immediate feedback

5. Lack of distractions/ worries

6. Sense of control over actions

7. Loss of consciousness of self >> awareness of self heightened after flow

8. Sense of time altered

Four flow activities (Roger Caillois)

Agon: game of competition (sports)

Alea: game of chances (dice)

Ilinx: alter consciousness (sky-driving)

Mimicry: reality alternatives (dance)

Flow chart

High skill, high challenge >> flow

Low skill, high challenge >> anxiety

High skill, low challenge >> boredom

Dynamic flow >> grow and discovery >> complexity

Autotelic family on children:

1. Clarity of goals (feedback)

2. Choices (feeling of control)

3. Caring

4. Appropriate challenges

Flow in Yoga

Yama: restraints from acts and thoughts to harm others

Niyama: obedience ordered routines >> channels attentions to predictable patterns >> attention controllable

Asana: sitting no succumb to strain/fatigue >> increase concentration power

Pranayama: breath control, relax, stabilizes rhythm of breathing

Pratyahara: withdrawal attention from outside; feel, see, hear at will

Dharana: concentration on single stimulus

Dhyana: intense mediation, uninterrupted concentration, forget of self, no need of stimulus

Samadhi: self-collectedness

The joy of see, taste, listen: consume passive >> actively consume à internalized symbolic system

Ppl without this is often distracted by constant noises.

Autotelic self

1.Setting goals

2. Becoming immersed in activity

3. Attention to what is happening

4. Learning to enjoy immediate experience

Selective quotes

1. “Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wide beast or a god.” –Francis Bacon

2. “To completely free one must become a slave to a set of laws.” –Cicero

3. “When I became paraplegic, it was like being born again. I had to learn from scratch everything I used to know, but in a different way. I had to learn to dress myself, to use my head better. I had to become part of the environment, and use it without trying to control it. It took commitment, willpower, and patience. As far as the future is concerned, I hope to keep improving, to keep breaking through the limitations of my handicap. Everybody must have a purpose. After becoming a paraplegic, these improvements have become my life goal.” –anonymous

4. “Goal justify the effort they demand at the outset, but later it is the effort that justifies the goal.” –author