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Home » Flow, The Secret to Happiness: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Transcript)

Flow, The Secret to Happiness: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Transcript)

Full text of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s talk titled “Flow, the secret to happiness” at TED conference.


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – Psychologist

I grew up in Europe, and World War II caught me when I was between seven and 10 years old.

And I realized how few of the grown-ups that I knew were able to withstand the tragedies that the war visited on them — how few of them could even resemble a normal, contented, satisfied, happy life once their job, their home, their security was destroyed by the war.

So I became interested in understanding what contributed to a life that was worth living.

And I tried, as a child, as a teenager, to read philosophy and to get involved in art and religion and many other ways that I could see as a possible answer to that question.

And finally, I ended up encountering psychology by chance. Actually I was at a ski resort in Switzerland without any money to actually enjoy myself, because the snow had melted and I didn’t have money to go to a movie. But I found that on the — I read in the newspapers that there was to be a presentation by someone in a place that I’d seen in the center of Zurich. And it was about flying saucers he was going to talk.

And I thought, well, since I can’t go to the movies, at least I will go for free to listen to flying saucers. And the man who talked at that evening lecture was very interesting.

Instead of talking about little green men, he talked about how the psyche of the Europeans had been traumatized by the war, and now they’re projecting flying saucers into the sky.

He talked about how the mandalas of ancient Hindu religion were kind of projected into the sky as an attempt to regain some sense of order after the chaos of war.

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