I spent last night reading a book I keep hearing about called, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszenthmihalyi.  Here are some random quotes from my reading last night.  I hope to add my notes here over the weekend.

MC developed a theory of optimal experience based on the concept of what he calls flow:

"..the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it."

* Flow experience has proven to be a universal human phenomenon as reported by women in Korea, adults in Thailand and India.

The Roots of Discontent
"What would really satisfy people is not getting slim or rich, but feeling good about their lives."

"How we feel about ourselves, the joy we get from living, ultimately depends directly on how the mind filters and interprets everyday experiences."

"Each of us has a picture, however vague, of what we would like to accomplish before we die.  How close we get to attaining this goal becomes the measure for the quality of our lives.  If it remains beyond reach, we grow resentful or resigned; if it is at least in part achieved, we experience a sense of happiness and satisfaction." 

The Shields of Culture:

"The [cultural] shields that have worked in the past- the order that religion, patriotism, ethnic traditions, and habits instilled by social classes used to provide- are no longer effective for increasing numbers of people who feel exposed to harsh winds of chaos.  The lack of inner order manifests itself  in the subjective conditions that some call ontological anxiety, or existential dread.  Basically, it is a fear of being, a feeling that there is no meaning to life and that existence is not worth going on with."

The Limits of Consciousness
"…the information we allow into consciousness….is, in fact, what determines the content and the quality of life."

Attention as Psychic Energy
"Because attention determines what will or will not appear in consciousness…it is useful to think of it as psychic energy.  Attention is like energy in that without no work can be done, and in doing work it is dissipated.  We create ourselves by how we invest this energy.  Memories, thoughts, and feelings are all shaped by how we use it.  And it is an energy under our control, to do with as we please; hence, attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.


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