Tuesday, January 12, 2016


I finished reading the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I thought it was a great read. Basically it teaches you how to enjoy everyday experience. How can some people work at the same job and do similar tasks day in and day out but love their work? They have probably found (consciously or unconsciously) a way to gain rewards from the tasks that they are doing. Maybe its challenging oneself to slowly perfect each movement or do something just a little bit faster. The book goes into the steps on how to create the conditions to experience this for yourself and explains why it is necessary.
As for myself, I am happy when I am able to take the quality of building something up a notch; in general, this is a general rule that technical teams will be more motivated when they are given the opportunity to bring up the quality of their work. I also realize that I find some happiness in detective work, tracking down the most odd bugs. These are things during work that I naturally find flow in. The next step is to create flow in my work on areas where I am not naturally inclined to be in flow.

More of my notes from the book:

  • A person who cannot override genetic instructions when necessary is always vulnerable/exploitable
  • Our experience is reality and we should be in control of them. Controlling experience is finding rewards in each moment
  • Even though we recognize that material success may not bring happiness, we engage in an endless struggle to reach external goals, expecting that they will improve life
  • enjoyment occurs at the border of anxiety and boredom. Not too hard or too easy.
  • Steps to transform to produce flow
  • to set an overall goal, and as many subgoals as are realistically feasible
  • to find ways of measuring progress in terms of the goals chosen
  • to keep concentrating on what one is doing and to keep making finer and finer distinction sin the challenges involved in the activity
  • to develop the skills necessary to interact with the opportunities available
  • to keep raising the stakes if the activity becomes boring
  • People who are alone are usually sad because they have no purpose, they need external goals, stimulation, feedback to keep attention directed. This is why Sunday mornings are hard for people. TV/drugs provides this protection from worries.
  • The ultimate test for the ability to control the quality of experience is what a person does in solitude, with no external demands to give structure to attention. (it is easy to become involved in a job, enjoy company of friends, be entertained in a theatre, but what happens when we are left alone?
  • Marriage will take the form that most efficiently ensures survival. For example a bird is polygamous in one area but monogamous somewhere else
  • It is important to consider how family life can be turned into a flow activity otherwise boredom/frustration will set in
  • Out of all virtues, no skill is more valuable than to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge