Monday, April 04, 2011

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Flow posits a theory of "optimal experience". If we spend time enjoying what we are doing, we can enter "flow". During flow, time moves at variable speed. Sometimes making short events seem to take a long time (as in a difficult dancing maneuver) Other times, a long period of time can seem to fly by as we are deeply involved in the process.

This is part of the enjoyment we get from life. The author distinguishes enjoyment from "pleasure". Enjoyment is a more lasting happiness, while pleasure is fleeting. We can achieve the more enjoyment when we "remove" ourselves from our internal focus and put a greater focus on others. People can have enjoyment in life regardless of their material well being. (And at times, adversity can even be the impetus that leads to the greater happiness.)

Many of the principles outlined in the book are similar to standard Christian teachings, explained in scientific terms.

I initial was referred to this book by some of Malcolm Gladwell's essays. Unfortunately, Gladwell already covered many of the key points in the book, leaving
very little "new" insights that I had not yet read. The book is still good. It is also interesting to read about the research methods, such as using pagers and diaries to get around "recall" bias of studies.

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