-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008), p.2.
- “The quality of life does not depend on happiness alone, but also on what one does to be happy. If one fails to develop goals that give meaning to one’s existence, if one does not use the mind to its fullest, then good feelings fulfill just a fraction of the potential we possess…Without dreams, without risk, only a trivial semblance of living can be achieved.”
- “To make the best use of free time, one needs to devote as much ingenuity and attention to it as one would to one’s job. Active leisure that helps a person grow does not come easy. In the past leisure was justified because it gave people an opportunity to experiment and to develop skills. In fact, before science and the arts became professionalized, a great deal of scientific research, poetry, painting, and musical composition was carried out in a person’s free time. Gregory Mendel did his famous genetic experiments as a hobby; Benjamin Franklin was led by interest, not a job description, to grind lenses and experiment with lightening rods; Emily Dickinson wrote her superb poetry to create order in her own life. Nowadays only experts are supposed to be interested in such issues; amateurs are derided for venturing into fields reserved for the specialist. But amateurs—those who do something because they love to do it—add enjoyment and interest to their own life, and to everybody else’s.”
- “The moods that people diagnosed with chronic depression or eating disorders experience are indistinguishable from those of healthy people—as long as they are in company and doing something that requires concentration. But when they are alone with nothing to do, their minds begin to be occupied by depressing thoughts, and their consciousness becomes entropic. This is also true, to a less pronounced extent, of everyone else.”
- “Emotions refer to the internal states of consciousness. Negative emotions like sadness, fear, anxiety, or boredom produce ‘psychic entropy’ in the mind, that is, a state in which we cannot use attention effectively to deal with external tasks, because we need it to restore an inner subjective order. Positive emotions like happiness, strength, or alertness are states of ‘psychic negentropy’ because we don’t need attention to ruminate and feel sorry for ourselves, and psychic energy can flow freely into whatever thought or task we choose to invest it in.”
- “The strong effects of companionship on the quality of experience suggest that investing psychic energy in relationships is a good way to improve life. Even the passive, superficial conversations at a neighborhood bar can stave off depression. But for real growth, it is necessary to find people whose opinions are interesting and whose conversation is stimulating. A more difficult, but in the long run even more useful, skill to acquire is the ability to tolerate solitude, and to even enjoy it.”