Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Review of the Book Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Review of the Book Flow

Psychology is a field that is old as the human being is. It aims to create an understanding of the behavior of human beings and factors that influence them to behave in ways that either conforms or fails to conform to the norms of the society. The growth of the field of psychology is attributable the contribution of different individuals from the ancient times such as Sigmoid Freud to those of the present times such as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. As such, it is important for the analysis of the bibliography of these individuals and their contribution to psychology to understand their influence on the field of psychology. Therefore, this essay discusses the bibliography of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a famous psychologist and reviews his book, "Flow" to create an understanding of his contributions to the field of psychology.


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a known psychologist who as contributed significantly to the field of research psychology. He was born on September 29, 1934, Italy, Flume. He grew up in Fiume and migrated to the U.S. At 22. Bibliographic analysis shows that he spent his time during the World War II in an Italian Prison Camp. At 16, a Swiss speaker, Carl Jung influenced Mihaly. The inspiration provided him with new positive aspects of perceiving life. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Chicago in 1960 and a Ph.D. From the same university in 1965. During his studies as an undergraduate, Mihaly served as a hotel auditor. He used the money earned to cater for his financial needs. Surprisingly, he felt discouraged by the curriculum used in the University. It mainly focused on issues related to the conditioned use of animal experiments rather than on human beings. As such, the challenge acted as a motivator towards him studying more into human behavior, feelings, and happiness. Upon completing his doctorate program, Mihaly returned to work at the University of Chicago as a professor until 2000 (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014).

Mihaly worked with a number of universities after graduating from the University of Chicago. For instance, Mihaly worked with the Lake Forest College as a professor of psychology before accepting the professorship at the University of Chicago. He began exploring evolution and creativity of self while working at the University of Chicago. The exploration led to him coming up with his theory of flow. It is during this time that Mihaly left Illinois and worked with the Claremont Graduate University (CGU) where he started the Quality of Life Research Center at the School of Psychology. He has vast experience in leadership. For example, he worked as Chairperson of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago. His contribution to the establishment of the Quality Research Center at the Claremont Graduate University (CGU) attests to his excellent leadership styles (Csikszentmihalyi & Academic, 2007).

Mihaly has contributed significantly to the field of psychology. He came up with the theory of flow. The theory has played a significant role in influencing people from a wide range of fields, including Bill Clinton, who felt moved by his book, "Flow." Mihaly postulated that people engage in a state of flow when they are at their optimal level of happiness. He considers the optimal state of happiness as a complete immersion of an individual's emotional, physical, and mental state into the free world, a factor that influence behavior. Mihaly states that during this state, people are deeply engrossed in their activities and are not distracted by influences from the external environment. To create the psychological understanding, he uses a pianist who is caught up in practicing to perfect her skill that she fails to remember to engage in the activities of the daily living such as eating, hence, considered a state of flow. In addition, Mihaly used his theory to explain the factors that influence individual's motivation towards a given behavior. He stated that people are motivated to accomplish what they are doing and less concerned with external influences. Most importantly, they focus on their activities because of the sheer pressure (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014).

In addition, Mihaly contributed to the field of psychology by explaining the basic principles behind some of the psychological therapies used in the management of mental conditions. For example, his theory influenced the rationale behind the use of techniques such as yoga, cognitive and behavioral therapies for treating mental conditions. Recently, Mihaly's contribution to psychology has been on motivation. He tries to explain the factors that contribute to one's motivation towards engaging in an activity and sustaining it. For instance, he stresses that individuals with intrinsic motivation towards something struggle a lot, do not procrastinate, and are highly motivated towards achieving the planned objectives. Mihaly contributed to the field of psychology by coming up with experiments using human beings rather than animals that were used in the earlier years. Using human beings provided significant superiority to his theory, which received significant attention from the global population (Csikszentmihalyi & Academic, 2007).

Besides, Mihaly has contributed significantly to psychology by publishing a variety of books focusing on psychology related topics. Among the publications include Beyond boredom and Anxiety, Flow, the psychology of optimal experience, the evolving self: a psychology for the third millennium, and finding flow: the psychology of engagement with everyday. These publications support Mihaly's prolific writing skills and contribution to psychology. Mihaly's contribution to psychology has influenced today's career fields significantly. For instance, it has led to the understanding and adoption of psychotherapeutic strategies of managing mental illnesses as in the case of yoga used in the management of mental illnesses. In addition, his contribution to psychology has created awareness on the role motivation plays in promoting the realization of the desired objectives and influence on behavior (Jackson & Csikszentmihalyi, 1999).

Review of the book "Flow"

The Flow by Mihaly provides insights on effective ways of managing people and situations. It provides individuals with a feeling of discovery, creativity, and a feeling of trance into a new reality. The different theoretical perspectives offer insights on the ways of moving an individual into higher levels of performance that lead to the previously undreamed states of one's consciousness. The approaches used in the book offer opportunities for people to transform themselves by making the situations less challenging. The theory of motivation incorporated in the book acts provides understanding into the rational factors that stimulate individuals to behave in a manner that allows them to realize their goals in a meaningful manner (Csikszentmihalyi & Academic, 2007).

Mihaly sets out various components of activity that makes the state of flow enjoyable to individuals. For example, he states that the ability of the rational actions to provide immediate feedback, presence of competing tasks, and clear goals makes it possible to realize the goals that are guided by the state of flow. Mihaly recognizes that the ability to achieve a state of flow depends on the presence of challenging situations that make one become deeply engaged in an activity. The book also describes the different ways in which individuals achieved flow throughout the last centuries. The author shows that the ancient people used a variety of strategies such as music, art, religion, and literature to achieve their state of flow. In addition, the author identifies the different ways in which people in the current society achieve their state of flow. Among the modern strategies used, include playing games such as chess, poker, and tennis and other forms of recreational activities that contribute to the realization of a flow state (Jackson & Csikszentmihalyi, 1999).

The chapters that focus on professionals and amateurs are some of the chapters I found fascinating. The author describes the ways in which professionals in different fields look down on the hobbyists. The author shows that individuals who constantly challenge…

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