Don’t judge a book by the author’s name
Whenever the book Flow by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi is mentioned by my favorite YouTubers or Podcasters, they often talk about finding the perfect “Flow Point” where one can surpass his current limit with a challenge that is neither too difficult as to be hopeless nor too easy as to be pointless. That said, I had the impression that it is going to be an esoteric read, a bland scientific discussion, hence I’ve been postponing opening the book as much as I could. Finally I took a dip and found the opposite of my assumptions: the book was engaging, more so at its culmination at the end. It goes to show, “don’t judge a book by the difficulty of pronouncing and spelling the author’s name.”
Flow, Consciousness, Pleasure
Throughout the chapters, the author discussed the concept of Flow and how we experience it through our five senses as well as within the creative playfulness of our intellect. Csikszentmihalyi made the existential subject of consciousness graspable both through an evolutionary explanation and by attaching anecdotes throughout his thesis. Stories of various people from all walks of life were used as examples, many of them “ordinary”, such as a mechanic, a factory worker, and a dog breeder; while others, with dilapidating experiences such as one who suffered from paraplegia (which I can relate to) and one from blindness. From these examples and by careful explanation, Csikszentmihalyi was able to express that flow is within the reach of everyone regardless of their backgrounds, upbringing, wealth, or other external factors.
Another important concept that the author was able to differentiate is between pleasure and flow. Pleasure is derived mostly from our senses, such as sex, food, and rest. However, pleasure in the absence of flow does not contribute to the complexity or growth of a person.
After reading this part, I found myself viewing my surroundings and activities either as a source of flow or not. For example, reading and writing are sources of flow for me, as well as exercise. I’ve also been able to convert other neutral activities such as doing chores into flow activities by becoming fully engrossed while doing them, making sure I do them as properly as I could, even if it’s simply a matter of washing dishes or folding my bedsheets.
Scrolling thru Facebook, Instagram, various shopping platforms, as well as YouTube were mostly for pleasure and rarely brought me Flow or gave me any challenge. Upon this realization, it is now much easier to control my time spent on these platforms instead of the mere “too much social media is bad for me” empty reasoning. I found myself wanting to engage from one flow activity to the next as soon as I get up in the morning.
However, like all things, behavior becomes an identity only thru faithful repetition. And that this is yet to be determined in the days, weeks, months and years to come.