Get into the groove and just enjoy the ride. Sounds like a great deal if you can get it. In fact, says psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, if you want to really feel good about your life, then getting into the flow is a real requirement. In his book, “Finding Flow”, he discusses what it means to get into the flow and what it will mean for your life if you do.
Finding flow is more than just “going with the flow”, according to Csikszentmihalyi. If you want to experience real flow, going with the flow is exactly what you do not want to do. Like many of Abraham Maslow’s followers, Csikszentmihalyi believes that what makes a person feel whole is what brings them the most sense of satisfaction, based on deliberate rather than unconscious choices. The opposite of hedonism, flow is defined as what makes a person feeling most alive while being at his or her most purposeful. This makes great sense; it would seem logical that what many of what would say is pleasurable for its own sake is nothing more than airing out the seven deadly sins. There’s only so many chocolate cakes you can eat before you feel sick to your stomach and turn yourself into a candidate for diabetes.
The problem with Csikszentmihalyi’s book that it is interesting, but yet ironically lacks flow. Or perhaps, it has too much flow. “Finding Flow” is full of anecdotes, statistics and studies which say how this person got flow and that one didn’t. Or how some people went with the evil flow, but that isn’t really flow. All of them are interesting on an individual scale, but I found myself wondering in what manner it was that I should achieve flow if I should want it. Granted, Csikszentmihalyi is not a self-help guru on the order of Dr. Phil. But with all the examples of what flow constitutes and how it was imposed from the outside (as in the case of Mozart and his demanding father), it seemed like the author was going to somehow finish his case by giving concrete advice. Which, at least to me, he really didn’t. Or at least, it seemed to contradict some other points he made in the book.
“Finding Flow” is by all means not a bad book. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is an engaging writer, and he presents all his examples with empathy. I do not know the author personally, but from his tone, it would not surprise me if he is a man of compassion. This sense of understanding and decent prose makes the book worth looking at if one would like a prompt to live a fuller life. It probably shouldn’t be the only book, though. And it would seem that “Finding Flow” would have more cohesion if it were divided in disparate articles in separate publications rather than strung together as a book. It is a decent read, as long as you don’t look for concrete answers. But maybe that is the point, as looking for your authentic purpose is an individual undertaking. This book isn’t the worst one you could pack for your journey along the way.