What Constitutes a Good Life?: Flow

What Constitutes a Good Life?:  Flow

Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi [Me-High Chick-Sent-Me-High] presents us with an intriguing topic, “What constitutes a good life?  Few questions are of more fundamental importance to a positive psychology.   Flow research has yielded one answer, providing an understanding of experiences during which individuals are fully involved in the present moment.  Viewed through the experiential lens of flow, a good life is one that is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.”

The human mind is powerful.  Brain study, philosophy, and religion tell us about significant values, reflect a legacy and story of a time and space, support communication, and are complex.  

Studying and executing what you learn can liberate and inspire yourself and others.  You do not need to be a professional scholar to start, although a background in Liberal Studies, the classics, or science is beneficial to provide context to what others have to say about what creates a good life.  

It takes time each day, reading books, experience, and practice to understand and develop a good life.  The research of Csikszentmihalyi, quotes by others, and life experience reveal how we can get into the flow of a good life.  Not that the flow can always be constant.

“Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi asks, ‘What makes a life worth living?’  Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of ‘flow.’  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has contributed pioneering work to our understanding of happiness, creativity, human fulfillment and the notion of ‘flow’-- a state of heightened focus and immersion in activities such as art, play and work.

Click the play button to see Csikszentmihalyi’s TedTalk.

Research on flow contributes knowledge to several topics that are of central importance to positive psychology.   In the first place, it illuminates the phenomenology of optimal experience, answering the question, What is it like to live fully, to be completely involved in the moment?  Second, this perspective leads to questions about the long-term consequences of optimal experience: Does the sum of flow over time add up to a good and happy life?   Or only under certain conditions, that is, if the person develops an autotelic personality and learns to enjoy high challenges?  

Furthermore, this line of research tries to unravel the conditions that act as obstacles or facilitators to optimal experience, focusing especially on the most prominent institutions such as the family, schools, and the workplace.  Although it seems clear that flow serves as a buffer against adversity and prevents pathology, its major contribution to the quality of life consists in endowing momentary experience with value.”

Food for Thought

What conclusion can you now draw about living a good life and its impact on your world today?

What books, videos, or articles have you read or watched that support Csikszentmihalyi’s research or provide another perspective?

How would you adapt to some of Csikszentmihalyi’s suggestions about living a good life?

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Credit:  www. ted. com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?utm_campaign=social&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=facebook. com&utm_content=talk&utm_term=social-science, eweaver .myweb. usf. edu/2002-Flow.pdf, youtube. com/watch?v=fXIeFJCqsPs 

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