Sunday, February 14, 2010

book review: flow

In an effort to encourage myself to read more this year, I'm going to be writing up some short reviews of the books I finish. Here is the first of what I hope will be many...

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

The basic premise of this book is that there is a state of optimal experience that is all-consuming, where your surroundings and your sense of time seem to disappear. This state, called flow, is achieved by having a series of tasks that are slightly beyond your current abilities -- they can come in many forms: work, puzzles, social interactions, sports, hobbies, games, etc.

If the task is too easy it will be boring, but if it is too difficult it will be frustrating. So the key to achieving flow is to make sure that the level of complexity is just above your current abilities. Finding that "sweet spot" can be a challenge, but since the difficulty of the task needs to be harder relative to your current skills, experiencing flow is possible whether you are a novice or an expert.


Despite being a relatively short book, it felt a little long-winded and meandering at times. Regardless, the idea is compelling, and it resonated experiences that I have had where an activity was so engrossing that I lost track of time. In my opinion, this book is worth reading.

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