A strictly subjective ranking around Flow
Check out our list, and do not forget to vote for your favorite at the end of this article!
We, here at FLIGBY, are real fans of Csikszentmihalyi’s books. Mike (his name is pronounced “me-HIGH chick-sent-me-HIGH-ee”) is one of the greatest thinkers of our age, a legendary pioneer of Positive Psychology, whose brainchild is the world-famous Flow theory. His books are more than bestsellers; they are provoking intellectual journeys and food for thoughts at the same time. Mike celebrated his 83th birthday last week, and it provides a great opportunity to make a list of his outstanding books:
5. Finding Flow (1997)
“Finding Flow” is the popular presentation of the author’s academic research into what he calls “Flow“. Flow is a mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment. Flow, creativity, and happiness are related. This book is about what makes people happy. It is not really a self-help book and does not really tell you how to find Flow. But it simply describes what it is, and why people who regularly experience it tend to be happier than people who do not. We like the book because it really takes the study of human happiness seriously, and it has some very interesting things to say about what makes people happy.
4. Running Flow (2017)
His newest, written together with Philip Latter and Christine Weinkauff Duranso. We like sports and we like running; we even enter our FLIGBY team year by year for a half-marathon. That’s why we like this book, which is the first one dedicated to helping runners achieve the state of Flow in competitive and training environments. You’ll find comprehensive coverage of the phenomenon, unique practice exercises that stimulate its occurrence, and firsthand accounts from elite runners about their Flow experiences. Anyone who has experienced Flow on a run wants to do so again. This fascinating book will show you how.
3. Creativity (1996)
One of the greatest summaries on this engaging topic. For us the major conclusion of this book is that creativity is not just an individual phenomenon: its presence depends largely on the actual social environment. What we loved in this book were numerous inspiring examples of creative people, many famous individuals from many fields of work, their stories, their approaches and habits, and their ongoing creative activitivities into the later years of their lives. It seems that the older we get the better we get at doing synthesizing or systems-based work – and thus make meaningful contributions. Mike’s “Creativity” is an excellent survey of all that nurtures and sustains creativity. A truly amazing book filled with insights, reflections, personal testimonies, and everything else that helps to explain what it means to be creative.
2. Good Business (2003)
The basics of FLIGBY. Not just a book about successful organizations but a value-based guide on how to survive in the VUCA world. In this book Mike extends the application of Flow to the role of business. He describes “Good Business” as a guidance for a way of conducting business that is both successful and humane, focusing on how leaders, managers and employees can learn to contribute to the sum of human happiness, to the development of an enjoyable life that provides meaning, and to a society that is just and evolving. While most people enjoy working when it provides Flow, too few jobs are designed to make Flow possible. This is where management can make a real difference!
1. The Evolving Self (1993)
Did you know that Mike wrote this book twice? That was among the first of his writings, but unfortunately the handwritten manuscript got lost during the eightees. After “Flow” became a bestseller, the publishers started to be interested to put Mike’s other works into print. “The Evolving Self” seemed to be a good choice, but Mike didn’t find its one and only hardcopy, neither at his office, nor at his home. Since this was nearly a 400 pages book, it was quite annoying. But you know what? Mike has accepted the challenge and started to rewrite it from the scratch. “For the second try it got much better” – he notes with stoic calm. Do not be surprised that this is still his favorite.