In Brief: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Flow Theory


In his famous TED talk in February 2004, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychologist, spoke of how a state of flow can cause existence to be temporarily suspended. He talked about an effortless, spontaneous feeling you get when you enter an ecstatic state - something a poet once described as "opening a door that floats in the sky", and he elaborated on a concentration so deep that one forgets about external senses like hunger, tiredness, and even time.

In essence, Csikszentmihalyi's Flow Theory suggests that a person in a state of flow becomes intense, and experiences a sense of ecstasy and clarity; where you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to another, and you get immediate feedback for all your actions. You forget yourself and you feel as though you are part of something larger. When all of these conditions come together, Csikszentmihalyi says that what you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake.

This describes the flow experience and the feeling of seamlessness that one can experience while playing or listening to music, engaging in sports, writing, or as OUM is embarking to show, even while learning.


TED (2008). Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on Flow, February 2004. Accessed June 21, 2012, from

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