3 min read

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

My thoughts on Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

🧠Summary in 3 Sentences

  1. Pleasure is in no way, shape, or form equal to enjoyment or fulfillment.
  2. We have much more control than we perceive ourselves to have, including the choice over whether or not we will be happy and live an optimal experience.
  3. Facing challenges that are appropriate for our skill level is the greatest way to achieve a more complex self, in turn leading to the development of skills, subsequently leading to the enjoyment of life.

🤔Impressions

Flow started a bit slow, as most non-fiction reads do. Once I dug into the content though, it was incredible. If applied, the content in the book could seriously change your life.

I finished the book recently, but as I read the book, my frame of reference and paradigm certainly shifted. It made me think about the actions I’m taking and how I should either not take them or reframe them to be a more enjoyable experience.

I found that many of the ideas in Flow are similar to those that have been broached in other books I’ve read. Ideas like being intentional in what you do, choosing your perspective, and being a lifelong learner are all central to achieving the flow state the book discusses.

Achieving the flow state is what this book is all about; think of flow as an athlete being in the zone. You are so invested in the activity you’re participating in that everything else ceases to matter. It’s the constant advancement and perfection of whatever your chosen craft may be.

By working on your skills and increasing the challenges you face, we become more complex and experience immense fulfillment in what we do.

🗣️Who Should Read It?

This should be mandatory reading for everybody. Seriously.

So many people are lost or unsatisfied in life, and Flow offers a potential solution if not THE solution.

We tend to overcomplicate things because we have SO many options at our disposal. What used to be as simple as gathering food and water has turned into what occupation to fulfill, how big our house is, and an overload of overthinking which drags us down time and time again.

Read this and get back to the basics. I promise you won’t regret it.

🤯Personal Impact

For me, this book has forever changed my way of thinking.

While I am by no means a lazy person, I tend to let my guard down and waste time more than I should. Let me provide an example.

If I’ve had a long day of school and work, chances are I’m going to get absorbed in my phone at the end of the day. Maybe fall asleep watching some Netflix, or something like that. After reading this book, I will not be doing that again.

Doing this, while relaxing, is not conducive to growing as a person, and therefore will not result in legitimate enjoyment of life. Instead, picking an activity that challenges you and forces you to increase your skills is the way to go.

I found it inspirational how many different avenues there are for experiencing Flow. Personally, my favorites currently are exercise (running, weightlifting, rock-climbing) and writing. These challenge me, either physically or mentally, just the right amount that I enjoy completing the activities.

All in all, my ideas about how to spend my time will be forever influenced by this book. It’s incredible.

✍🏻Top 3 Quotes

  1. “What I discovered was that happiness is not something that happens. It is not the result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy or power command. It does not depend on outside events, but, rather, on how we interpret them. Happiness, in fact, is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person. People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy.” (2)
  2. “The quality of experience of people who play with and transform the opportunities in their surroundings…is clearly more developed as well as more enjoyable than that of people who resign themselves to live within the constraints of the barren reality they feel they cannot alter.” (149)
  3. “Yet how one copes with solitude makes all the difference. If being alone is seen as a chance to accomplish goals that cannot be reached in the company of others, then instead of feeling lonely, a person will enjoy solitude and might be able to learn new skills in the process.” (175)

I should also mention that this book is based on psychological research mainly led by the University of Chicago; there is academic validity to these ideas.

I'll be doing a deep dive on this book at a later time that will encompass the ideas more in-depth, but this will suffice for now.

If you're interested in picking up the book for yourself (and you absolutely should be!), here's the link: https://amzn.to/3ScXshv.