The Psychology of Optimal Experience
by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Ph.D.
Excellent description, Doctor, where’s the prescription?
Professor Csikszentmihalyi has done a great service by distilling his decades of research into happiness and satisfaction into a well constructed single volume. He writes with wit, insight, and character. His vast learning is often evident but never overbearing.
The book ultimately fails, however, for it invests all of its considerable power in describing Flow and convincing the reader to seek this optimal experience but does too little to help us on the path toward experiencing it. This flaw is somewhat healed in his later books, but perhaps the key can not be conveyed in print.
One forgets the self, Zen teachers say, by becoming one with the task at hand. At such moments, released from the burdens of selfhood, one glimpses, however briefly, a state of spiritual wholeness that underlies and supports one’s everyday consciousness.
That is why I am so busy teaching and consulting on the topic. I use a simple, meaningful mnemonic to help people construct Flow experiences: SOFT CAGE.
- The SOFT CAGE of Flow
- Skill for Challenge
- Outside of Time
- Attention on Action
- Game is the Goal
His next book is tremendously insightful and filled with pithy, provocative insights. See the summary on this blog by clicking here, The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the Third Millennium by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi