“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.”- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Milhay Csikszentmihalyi was a Hungarian psychology professor. He was born on September 29th, 1934 in Fiume, Itlay. When he was 22, he moved to the United States of America. He has a very thriving academic career. Formerly, he served as a chairperson of the psychology department at the University of Chicago. Before that, he had also served at the department of anthropology and sociology at the Lake Forest College. Currently, he is serving at the Claremont Graduate University. He studied from University of Chicago receiving his B.A. and Ph.D. in 1960 and 1965, respectively. He also taught at the University of Chicago from 1969 to 2000. He was honored with the Clifton Strengths Prize in 2009 as well as Széchenyi Prize in Budapest in 2011.
One of the significant works of Milhaly Csikszentmihalyi was on the idea of happiness. He presented his theory on the notion of happiness or satisfaction in his seminal work entitled as Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. He analyzed that people are at their optimum level of happiness when they are in a state of flow. He defined “flow” as a state of complete absorption with the action that the person is occupied with at hand. It can also include a situation rather than an activity. Happiness is a state in which people do not get bothered about what’s happening around them due to the activity or situation they are involved with at the point in time. He depicts the concept of 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. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost”. This theory about happiness is related to the fact that he spent a part of his life in a camp where he used to play chess. He found chess so exciting and absorbing that he could not notice what was happening around him. This is how his theory about happiness as a state of flow is related to his experience. His work on the theory of flow has been appreciated by a broad range of people from different fields. Two of the most influential personalities that appreciated his work on his unique theory of happiness are former US president Bill Clinton, as well as, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is also a productive writer. He has published several articles on diverse topics as well as book chapters in the field of psychology. His profound research and writings on the theory and state of joy and happiness and creativity have played a vital role in developing an interest towards the field of positive psychology.