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Mihaly Robert Csikszentmihalyi (, hu, Csíkszentmihályi Mihály Róbert, ; 29 September 1934 – 20 October 2021) was a Hungarian-American psychologist. He recognized and named the psychological concept of
flow Flow may refer to: Science and technology * Flow (fluid) or fluid dynamics, the motion of a gas or liquid * Flow (geomorphology), a type of mass wasting or slope movement in geomorphology * Flow (mathematics), a group action of the real numbers on ...
, a highly focused mental state conducive to productivity. He was the Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at
Claremont Graduate University Claremont Graduate University (CGU) is a private, all-graduate research university in Claremont, California. Founded in 1925, CGU is a member of the Claremont Colleges which includes five undergraduate ( Pomona College, Claremont McKenna Co ...
. He was the former head of the department of psychology at the
University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an abse ...
and of the department of sociology and anthropology at
Lake Forest College Lake Forest College is a private liberal arts college A liberal arts college or liberal arts institution of higher education is a college A college (Latin: ''collegium'') is an educational institution or a University system, constituent pa ...
.


Early life

Mihaly Robert Csikszentmihalyi was born on 29 September 1934 in
Fiume Rijeka ( , , ; hu, Fiume, it, Fiume ; local Chakavian Chakavian or Čakavian (, , , sh-Latn, čakavski proper name: or own name: ''čokovski, čakavski, čekavski'') is a South Slavic regiolect or language A language is a s ...

Fiume
, now known as
Rijeka Rijeka ( , , ; hu, Fiume, it, Fiume ; local Chakavian Chakavian or Čakavian (, , , sh-Latn, čakavski proper name: or own name: ''čokovski, čakavski, čekavski'') is a South Slavic regiolect or language A language is a s ...

Rijeka
, then part of the
Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Italia) was a state that existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II en, Victor Emmanuel Mario Albert Eugene Ferdinand Thomas , house = House of Savoy, Savoy , father = Charles Albert o ...
. His family name derives from the village of Csíkszentmihály in Transylvania. He was the third son of a career diplomat at the Hungarian Consulate in Fiume. His two older half-brothers died when Csikszentmihalyi was still young; one was an engineering student who was killed in the
Siege of Budapest The siege of Budapest or Battle of Budapest was the 50-day-long encirclement by Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia Eurasia () i ...
, and the other was sent to labor camps in Siberia by the Soviets. His father was appointed Hungarian Ambassador to Italy shortly after the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, moving the family to Rome. When Communists took over Hungary in 1949, Csikszentmihalyi's father resigned rather than work for the regime; the Communist regime responded by expelling his father and stripping the family of their Hungarian citizenship. To earn a living, his father opened a restaurant in Rome, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi dropped out of school to help with the family income. At this time, the young Csikszentmihalyi, then travelling in Switzerland, saw
Carl Jung Carl Gustav Jung ( ; born Karl Gustav Jung, ; 26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961), was a Swiss psychiatrist A psychiatrist is a physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations ...

Carl Jung
give a talk on the psychology of UFO sightings. Csikszentmihalyi emigrated to the United States at the age of 22, working nights to support himself while studying at the
University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an abse ...
. He received a B.A. in 1959 and a Ph.D. in 1965, both from the University of Chicago. He then taught at
Lake Forest College Lake Forest College is a private liberal arts college A liberal arts college or liberal arts institution of higher education is a college A college (Latin: ''collegium'') is an educational institution or a University system, constituent pa ...
, before becoming a professor at the University of Chicago in 1969.


Work

Csikszentmihalyi was noted for his work in the study of
happiness The term ''happiness'' is used in the context of Mental health, mental or emotional states, including positive or Pleasure, pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is also used in the context of life satisfaction, subj ...

happiness
and
creativity Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea In common usage and in philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, suc ...

creativity
, but is best known as the architect of the notion of ''
flow Flow may refer to: Science and technology * Flow (fluid) or fluid dynamics, the motion of a gas or liquid * Flow (geomorphology), a type of mass wasting or slope movement in geomorphology * Flow (mathematics), a group action of the real numbers on ...
'' and for his years of research and writing on the topic.
Martin Seligman Martin Elias Peter Seligman (; born August 12, 1942) is an American psychologist A psychologist is a professional A professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns a living from a specified professional activity. The term ...

Martin Seligman
, former president of the
American Psychological Association The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologist A psychologist is a professional A professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns a living from a speci ...
, described Csikszentmihalyi as the world's leading researcher on
positive psychology Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living, focusing on both individual and societal well-being. It studies "positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions...it aims t ...
. Csikszentmihalyi once said: "Repression is not the way to virtue. When people restrain themselves out of fear, their lives are by necessity diminished. Only through freely chosen discipline can life be enjoyed and still kept within the bounds of reason." His works are influential and are widely cited.


Flow

In his seminal work, ''Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience'', Csíkszentmihályi outlined his theory that people are happiest when they are in a state of ''flow''—a state of
concentration In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in t ...
or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). ''Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience''. New York: Harper and Row. p. 15 The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being ''in the zone'' or ''in the groove''. The flow state is an optimal state of ''
intrinsic motivation Motivation is what explains why people or animals initiate, continue or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time. Motivational states are commonly understood as forces acting within the agent that create a disposition to engage in goal-d ...

intrinsic motivation
'', where the person is fully immersed in what they are doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great absorption, engagement, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored. In an interview with ''
Wired ''Wired'' (stylized as ''WIRED'') is a monthly American magazine, published in print and online magazine, online editions, that focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics. Owned by Condé Nast, it is headquar ...
'' magazine, Csíkszentmihályi described flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing
jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human s ...
. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost." Csikszentmihályi characterized nine component states of achieving flow including "challenge-skill balance, merging of action and awareness, clarity of goals, immediate and unambiguous feedback, concentration on the task at hand, paradox of control, transformation of time, loss of self-consciousness, and
autotelic An autotelic is someone or something that has a purpose in, and not apart from, itself. Origin The word "autotelic" derives from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), o ...
experience". To achieve a flow state, a balance must be struck between the challenge of the task and the skill of the performer. If the task is too easy or too difficult, flow cannot occur as both skill level and challenge level must be matched and high; if skill and challenge are low and matched, then apathy results. One state that Csikszentmihalyi researched was that of the
autotelic An autotelic is someone or something that has a purpose in, and not apart from, itself. Origin The word "autotelic" derives from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), o ...
personality. The autotelic personality is one in which a person performs acts because they are intrinsically rewarding, rather than to achieve external goals. Csikszentmihalyi described the autotelic personality as a trait possessed by individuals who can learn to enjoy situations that most other people would find miserable. Research has shown that aspects associated with the autotelic personality include curiosity, persistence, and humility.


Motivation

A majority of Csikszentmihalyi's final works focused the idea of
motivation Motivation is what explains why people or animals initiate, continue or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time. Motivational states are commonly understood as forces acting within the agent that create a disposition to engage in goal-d ...

motivation
and the factors that contribute to motivation, challenge, and overall success in an individual. One personality characteristic that Csikszentmihalyi researched in detail was that of
intrinsic motivation Motivation is what explains why people or animals initiate, continue or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time. Motivational states are commonly understood as forces acting within the agent that create a disposition to engage in goal-d ...

intrinsic motivation
. Csikszentmihalyi and his colleagues found that intrinsically motivated people were more likely to be goal-directed and enjoy challenges that would lead to an increase in overall
happiness The term ''happiness'' is used in the context of Mental health, mental or emotional states, including positive or Pleasure, pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is also used in the context of life satisfaction, subj ...

happiness
. Csikszentmihalyi identified intrinsic motivation as a powerful trait to possess to optimize and enhance positive experience, feelings, and overall
well-being Well-being, also known as ''wellness'', ''prudential value'' or ''quality of life'', refers to what is intrinsically valuable relative ''to'' someone. So the well-being of a person is what is ultimately good ''for'' this person, what is in the ...
as a result of challenging experiences. The results indicated a new
personality Personality is the characteristic sets of behaviors, cognitions, and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors. While there is no generally agreed upon definition of personality, most theories focus on motivation a ...
construct, a term Csikszentmihalyi called ''work orientation'', which is characterized by "achievement, endurance, cognitive structure, order, play, and low impulsivity". A high level of work orientation in students is said to be a better predictor of grades and fulfillment of long-term goals than any school or household environmental influence.


Personal life

Csikszentmihalyi married Isabella Selega in 1961. He was the father of artist and professor Christopher Csíkszentmihályi, and
University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley, Berkeley, Cal, or California) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization ...

University of California, Berkeley
professor of philosophical and religious traditions of
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
and
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
, Mark Csikszentmihalyi. In 2009, Csikszentmihalyi was awarded the Clifton Strengths Prize and received the
Széchenyi Prize The Széchenyi Prize ( hu, Széchenyi-díj), named after István Széchenyi, is a prize given in Hungary by the state, replacing the former State Prize in 1990 in recognition of those who have made an outstanding contribution to academic life in Hun ...
at a ceremony in Budapest in 2011. He was awarded the Grand Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary in 2014. He was a
Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, founded 1780, (abbreviation: AAAS) is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States of America, United States. Membership in the academy is achieved through a thorough petition, review, an ...

Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
, and a member of both the
National Academy of Education The National Academy of Education (NAEd) is a nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public ...
and the Academy of Leisure Sciences. Csikszentmihalyi died on 20 October 2021, at his home in
Claremont, California Claremont () is a suburban city on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, California Los Angeles County, officially the County of Los Angeles, and sometimes abbreviated as L.A. County, is the List of the most populous counties in the Unite ...
, at the age of 87.


Publications

* Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1975). ''Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play'', San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. * Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1978) "Intrinsic Rewards and Emergent Motivation" in ''The Hidden Costs of Reward: New Perspectives on the Psychology of Human Motivation'' eds Lepper, Mark R; Greene, David, Erlbaum: Hillsdale: N.Y. 205–216 * Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly and Halton, Eugene (1981). ''The Meaning of Things: Domestic Symbols and the Self'' , Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press Cambridge University Press (CUP) is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge , mottoeng = Literal: From here, light and sacred draughts. Non literal: From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowled ...
. * Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly and Larson, Reed (1984). ''Being Adolescent: Conflict and Growth in the Teenage Years''. New York: Basic Books, Inc. * Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly and Csikszentmihalyi, Isabella Selega, eds. (1988). ''Optimal Experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness'', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1990). ''Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience''. New York: Harper and Row. * Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1994). ''The Evolving Self'', New York: Harper Perennial. * Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1996). ''Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention''. New York: Harper Perennial. * Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998). ''Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life''. Basic Books. * , Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, and (2001). ''Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet''. New York, Basic Books. * Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (2003). ''Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning''. Basic Books, Inc. * Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (2014). ''The Systems Model of Creativity: The Collected Works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi''. Dordrecht: Springer, 2014. * Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (2014). ''Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology: The Collected Works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi''. Dordrecht: Springer, 2014. * Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (2014). ''Applications of Flow in Human Development and Education: The Collected Works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi''. Dordrecht: Springer, 2014.


See also

*
Attention Attention is the behavioral and cognitive process Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual funct ...

Attention
*
Cognitive science Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge that is Educ ...

Cognitive science
*
Creativity Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea In common usage and in philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, suc ...

Creativity
*
Experience sampling methodThe experience sampling method (ESM), also referred to as a daily diary method, or ecological momentary assessment (EMA), is an intensive longitudinal research methodology Methodology is "'a contextual framework' for research, a coherent and log ...
* John Neulinger *
Motivation Motivation is what explains why people or animals initiate, continue or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time. Motivational states are commonly understood as forces acting within the agent that create a disposition to engage in goal-d ...

Motivation
*
Psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

Psychology


References


External links


Faculty page
at
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Brain Channels Thinker of the Year - 2000

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: "The Construction of Happiness" (Video)
* *
TED Talk: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness (TED2004)
{{DEFAULTSORT:Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly 1934 births 2021 deaths American people of Hungarian descent American psychologists American science writers Claremont Graduate University faculty Creativity researchers Hungarian psychologists Hungarian scientists Members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Positive psychologists Psychology educators Scientists from Rijeka
University of Chicago alumni Alumni of the University of Chicago ''For a more complete listing, see the article: List of University of Chicago people'' {{CatAutoTOC, numerals=no Alumni by university or college in Illinois, Chicago University of Chicago people, Alumni ...
University of Chicago faculty Yugoslav emigrants to the United States