Originally published on Goodreads


Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a book expanding on the author’s research. The original research article posited the theory of flow which is a mental state characterized by 8 components, including, a task with clear goals, a task which provides immediate feedback and so on. The theory of flow has been crucial in research and my entire masters thesis was based on the theory. So going into this book I perhaps had an expectation that I would like it.

I didn’t. Csikszentmihalyi writes about almost everything else but flow. He equals flow with happiness but doesn’t build on this in any way. Instead it is just a quite comprehensive, but ultimately personal account into what makes people happy. None of the statements about happiness is really backed up by any research or at least the author doesn’t try to justify any of the claims made in the book. The structure of the book is also lacking. Csikszentmihalyi divides the book into aspects of life and with chapters devoted into work, family life, friends and so on. Reading each chapter is however just jumping back and forth between viewpoints, anecdotes and once and a while some research. The loose structure makes it quite difficult to see how the author thinks that happiness can be gained.

The theory of flow is groundbreaking and an extremely interesting research topic. The problem is that the book does not measure up at all and seems to be the author’s opinions instead of being backed up by research or any kind of evidence. I’ve also read research papers that gave a better introduction to the theory of flow that what Csikszentmihalyi provides in the book. Skip this book and instead find a paper that explains the theory.

1 out of 5 stars.