Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Book Notes


  • The concept is that we are all seeking to be happy
  • Being happy is about being in flow
  • Flow is state that comes ensues when you lose sense of time and feelings external to what you are doing.
  • Getting into the flow requires you to engage in self-controlled, goal-related, meaningful actions
  • The question is how we acheive that state of flow on an ongoing basis
  • Flow comes about from an active control and directing of conciousness
  • Training and practice in controlling your conciousness in these routes is what makes the flow possible on an active basis

The Anatomy of Conciousness

  • Consiousness is the combination of concious events (sensation, feelings, thoughts, emotions) our perception of them and our reaction to them
  • Intentions are the directions that conciousness takes – like if we are aware of feeling hungry we can form an attention to get food and our conciousness order itself around that intention
  • Intentions tend to be ordered in heirarchy and the self is just the set of heirarchies we carry around with us based on life experience. For example my self wants to have a comfortable house, success at work and a loving wife. Those intentions then form sub-intentions – go to work, have a good job, buy flowers for the wife, etc.
  • Attention can be thought of as the energy we expand to shape conciousness
  • Anxiety, pain, rage or jealousy generally can be thought of as disorder in the conciousness, turbulence in the flow or psychic entropy. They occur when we get information that conflicts with or keep us from carrying out our current set of intentions – acting on our self.
    • As an example think about something that is worrying you. The worry is caused by a violation – current or anticipated – of your self. The worry goes away when this violation is reconciled.
  • Order in conciousness means a lack of turbulence or psyhic entropy thus flow.

Enjoyment and the Quality of LIfe

There are two main ways to improve the quality of life:

  • Bring external conditions inline with internal goals.
  • Change the way we experience external conditions to make them fit our goals better.

For example if you desire a greater sense of security you can (i) buy an alarm system or a gun of (ii) accept that the world is an insecure and uncertain place as part of your definition of security. Neither approach should be used exclusively and both are valid at certain times and places – wisdom in knowing the difference.

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