Philosophical and Psychological
Foundations of Education

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  

My Educational Philosophy
Quotations by Topic

de Bary
Roland Martin

Excerpts from Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Happiness is not something that happens. It is not the result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy or power command. It does not depend on outside events, but, rather, on how we interpret them. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 2

The best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. . . . For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 3

Following a flow experience, the organization of the self is more complex than it had been before. It is by becoming increasingly complex that the self might be said to grow. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 41

The self does not grow as a consequence of pleasurable experiences. Complexity requires investing psychic energy in goals that are new, that are relatively challenging. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 47

It is possible to experience a feeling of control unless one is willing to give up the safety of protective routines. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 61

It is not skills we actually have that determine how we feel, but the ones we think we have. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 75

Although a self-conscious person is in many respects different from a self-centered one, neither is in enough control of psychic energy to enter easily into a flow experience. Both lack the attentional fluidity needed to relate to activities for their own sake; too much psychic energy is wrapped up in the self, and free attention is rigidly guided by its needs. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 85

When adversity threatens to paralyze us, we need to reassert control by finding a new direction in which to invest psychic energy, a direction that lies outside the research of external forces. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 92

It is not the hearing that improves life, but the listening. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 109

It is a mistake to assume that creativity and rote learning are incompatible. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 123

It is useless to remember facts unless they fit into patterns, unless one finds likenesses and regularities among them. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 124

Great thinkers have always been motivated by the enjoyment of thinking rather than by the material rewards that could be gained by it. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 126

If we have become dependent on television, on drugs, and on facile calls to political or religious salvation, it is because we have so little to fall back on, so few internal rules to keep our mind from being taken over by those who claim to have the answers. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p.128

It could be argued that the main function of conversation is not to get things accomplished, but to improve the quality of experience. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 129

Unfortunately, many serious thinkers devote all their mental effort to becoming well-known scholars, but in the meantime they forget their initial purpose in scholarship. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 139

Hurting oneself, whether physically or emotionally, ensures that attention can be focused on something that, although painful, is at least controllable--since we are the ones causing it. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, pp. 170-171

The ultimate test for the ability to control the quality of experience is what a person does in solitude, with no external demands to give structure to attention. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 171

A person who rarely gets bored, who does not constantly need a favorable external environment to enjoy the moment, has passed the test for having achieved a creative life. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 171

Entering any relationship entails a transformation of the self. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 178

It is much easier for a person to try developing her potential if she knows that no matter what happens, she has a safe emotional base in the family. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 184

It is in the company of friends that we can most clearly experience the freedom of the self and learn who we really are. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 189

Those who try to make life better for everyone without having learned to control their own lives first usually end up making things worse all around. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 191

External supports by themselves are not that effective in mitigating stress. They tend to help only those who can help themselves. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 199

Most of us become so rigidly fixed in the ruts carved out by genetic programming and social conditioning that we ignore the options of choosing any other course of action. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 207

One of the basic differences between a person with an autotelic self and one without it is that the former knows that it is she who has chosen whatever goal she is pursuing. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 210

To be distracted against one's will is the surest sign that one is not in control. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 211

The psychic entropy peculiar to the human condition involves seeing more to do than one can actually accomplish and feeling able to accomplish more than what conditions allow. ~ M. Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, p. 228


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