Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on Flow and Happiness

About 30% of the people surveyed on the United States are very happy.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the father of the flow experience, presents that statistic in his TED talk titled “Flow, the Secret to Happiness.” This level of happiness has persisted over tens of years even though income has tripled. This seems to confirm a lesson many of us claim to know, but few actually practice:

[Past a certain point] increases in material well-being don’t seem to affect how happy people are.

In his book Rise of Superman, Steven Kotler describes that flow experiences might be the foundation of true happiness:

In fact, when Csikszentmihalyi dove deeper into the data, he discovered that the happiest people on earth, the ones who felt their lives had the most meaning, were those who had the most peak experiences.

Csikszentmihalyi bases this assertion off of the thousands of interviews he and his team have done with individuals from all walks of life from composers to figure skaters and writers. His TED talk on flow and happiness is definitely worth a watch.