In the book Flow wriiten by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, he explains what happiness is and how life can be more enjoyable. People instantly expect that money, beauty, health and power will make them happy. Csikszentmihalyi goes into great depth to show how this knowledge is wrong. The point of the book is to explore when people are most happy. Csikszentmihalyi studies experts like artists, athletes, musicians, and plenty of other people who spend time performing activities that they love. He studies these people to see exactly how and what it feels like to be happy doing something that they love to be doing – this is when Flow was created. He states in the book that flow is “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.” (Page 4) Csikszentmihalyi also explains how happiness is not something that just happens. You have to control your inner experiences to determine the quality of your own life. No matter how much money you have or how beautiful you are, you will always want more and never feel completely satisfied with what you have. You have to be able to control the anxiety and boredom in life to be able to achieve happiness.
My favorite chapter in the book was chapter 5: The body in Flow. This is my favorite chapter because I got extremely interested in it and it was very easy to relate to. It is broken up into different sections that have to do with the body but my favorites were the joys of movement and sex as a flow Csikszentmihalyi points out that activities that have to do with movement of the body can be enjoyable by just performing it but people who participate in these types of activities gain happiness by setting new goals and achieving them. He also goes on to explain that sex is enjoyable and rewarding but can get boring feeling like a ritual or even becomes addicting. Especially within relationships, sex with the same person can become boring and typically feel like a chore. Csikszentmihalyi says that for this not to happen, the partners need to discover new things about themselves and about each other to spice things up. Sex can always be enjoyable if you are willing to take control of it by changing it and making it more complex. I agree with everything Csikszentmihalyi is saying within this chapter. I was a dancer for years and I always loved doing it but I was always the happiest when I achieved a goal that I put my heart and soul into. The same goes for the sex, I have had friends and even myself experience relationships getting boring and having to take the extra step to learn more about each other to make the sex and the relationship itself more enjoyable.
The book relates to the class from the slides on incentives. On slide 42, there is a TED talk with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi himself going into greater depth about flow. In the beginning of the video, he discusses how he is from Europe and how he remembers how the grown-ups around him were still living happy lives even after losing their jobs and homes due to WW2. This just proves that everything he was saying in the book about how things you have in life do not cause happiness, it is how you look and think of life to be true. He also talks about how you have to start bringing everyday life into flow.
This book could help many people with anxiety and depression. Rather than teaching you techniques on how to handle the anxiety, depression, and whatever else like other books, this just simply tells you to have a different outlook on life and gives some examples on how to do so. In my experience, this book made me realize that I am not enjoying my life to the fullest. I am constantly working and worrying about money and taking extra classes to make sure I graduate within a reasonable time frame. I am rarely going out on vacation or to bars with friends, because I am scared of wasting money when I should not be. I should be going out and living my life especially since I do work and could just work to get the money back.
Here is an animated video about the book: