-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life (New York: Basic Books, 1997), p. 13.
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “When goals are clear, feedback relevant, and challenges and skills are in balance, attention becomes ordered and fully invested. Because of the total demand on psychic energy, a person in flow is completely focused. There is no space in consciousness for distracting thoughts, irrelevant feelings. Self-consciousness disappears, yet one feels stronger than usual. The sense of time is distorted: hours seem to pass by in minutes. When a person’s entire being is stretched in the full functioning of mind and body, whatever one does becomes worth doing for its own sake; living becomes its own justification. In the harmonious focusing of physical and psychic energy, life finally comes into its own. It is the full involvement of flow, rather than happiness, that makes for excellence in life.”
- “Without a consistent set of goals, it is difficult to develop a coherent self. It is through the patterned investment of psychic energy provided by goals that one creates order in experience. This order, which manifests itself in predictable actions, emotions, and choices, in time becomes recognizable as more or less a unique ‘self.’”
- “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.”