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In memory of Mihaly🎈
#112 | Flow and the psychology of happiness
Welcome to Wisdom Letter #112.
This email will take less than 2 minutes.
Today we’re remembering the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Mihaly passed away this week.
He is widely considered the founder of the field of positive psychology.
Basically, before his research, psychology was only used to treat people with mental illnesses.
It wasn’t seen as a tool to improve the quality of life of the general population.
But his research and his idea of “Flow” kickstarted the positive psychology movement in the last 50 years.
He was one of the first few people who scientifically studied the elusive idea of happiness.
Over the years we’ve written and curated some content around his ideas via this newsletter.
Today we take another look at them.
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In layman’s terms, Flow means a highly productive mental state where we are so engrossed in a task at hand that we forget about everything else in life.
It’s the closest we can get to a universally acceptable definition of happiness.
But how do we achieve that?
By doing tasks that are difficult enough to challenge our skills, but not so difficult that we end up giving them up.
That’s it, that’s how we can practically achieve happiness, be in a state of flow.
And that is also why writing this newsletter every week, gives us so much happiness.
Flow lives in this sweet spot -
Read a longer commentary on the concept of Flow, and other ways to look at happiness in Wisdom Letter #39.
Also, find some interesting reads -
More interesting reads and listens around happiness in Wisdom Letter 16 -
To understand his theories better, and to look at Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research process, watch his Ted Talk -
And watch this video summary of his book - Flow, the psychology of happiness.
Austin Kleon, the author of books like Steal Like an Artist and Show your work, wrote a short blog post reflecting on Mihaly’s ideas.
Check it out - A state of flow
Signing off, I just want to say that we’ve learned a lot from Mihaly’s theories, his book, and his research. We’ve tried to model our own lives to achieve optimum flow and will strive to do so continuously.
In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s death, we’ve lost a stalwart and a great mind🙏
One of his best quotes -
The joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe
You can read the official obituary on his Facebook page.
Thank you for reading🙏
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See you next week.
Ayush & Aditi