An introduction to a lecture

Listen to the introduction of a psychology lecture to practise and improve your listening skills.

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Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the first lecture of our new course in Positive Psychology. While some people may associate psychology with looking at what's wrong with us, and at what problems we have, there is much more to psychology than that. Positive psychology, for example, looks at how to help people become happier.

This lecture begins with a question: what makes a happy life?

Now, I'm going to give you one possible answer. A happy life is a life in which you are completely absorbed in what you do. Now, how does this compare with what you and your partner said? 

This answer comes from the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the theory of flow. Csikszentmihalyi is a psychologist who has spent much of his professional life on the study of what makes people happy and how we can find happiness.

Csikszentmihalyi suggests the theory that happiness is not caused by external events or things that happen to us. Our perception of these things and how we see these events either makes us happy or sad. In other words, if we want happiness, we have to actively look for it. However, this does not mean that we should always look for happiness! Csikszentmihalyi believed that our happiest moments happen when we are in a state of flow.

The theory of flow can be summarised like this: when we are totally involved in, or focused on, what we are doing, we are in a state of flow.

Csikszentmihalyi got the inspiration for this theory when he noticed how artists worked in a studio. They completely lost track of time, they didn't notice they were hungry or tired, and they could work for hours, even days, without stopping. Anyone I have spoken to who has experienced this state of concentration has said it's difficult to explain. The best way to explain it is that it is like being in a river and the flow of the water carries you away.

For the rest of this lecture, I will explore this theory of flow in more detail. First we will look at Csikszentmihalyi's life, and how it influenced his ideas. Then we will look at the conditions that go with a state of flow. What creates flow, exactly? Finally, we will look at activities that can help us achieve flow in our everyday lives. Will this course make you happy for life? Well, maybe. Maybe. 

Right, let's get started. If you look at the next slide …

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Submitted by conejo on Mon, 17/02/2020 - 00:05

I have been in a "state of flow" in my job, when I worked for an specific goal and deadline.

Submitted by César Árraga on Mon, 10/02/2020 - 18:20

To be honest I've never been in a state of flow, as I'm not completely absorved in what I do because sometimes get distracted more easily. But I'd like to experiment this one and feel that it is to have a happy life.

Submitted by pacha809 on Mon, 10/02/2020 - 14:10

it happens sometimes when i'm on my pc while i'm doing something new. I am so absorbed in my work that I can no longer hear anyone. My wife can call me or tell me something, at first, I don't hear her. She has to repeat her question and then I take my concentration off and I say: "What did you say?" So, at that time , I think I was in a state of flow and certainly in a bubble in which I was very happy
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Submitted by Khoa_Tran on Mon, 03/02/2020 - 03:59

Yes, i have been 'state in flow' when doing something i love. For example, when i am coding or fix bug, i am in concentration. Studying something new also make me in state of flow

Submitted by gogo on Fri, 31/01/2020 - 18:52

yes , I have been in a 'state of flow' while I doing an activity.

Submitted by lio_2028 on Tue, 21/01/2020 - 09:00

sure i have been in state of flow while i doing things completely absorbed me like solving problems for programmer otherwise i admit and mush of times i get out of state of flow especially when i have exams sequentiality i can't control myself well that's make me nervous in this phase. however i love it and that's give me more confident in what i am doing ^ _ ^

Submitted by Hubert Sandoval on Sun, 19/01/2020 - 02:44

I am learning a lot in this course and that make me happy, the fact that now i know something new in this day. I think that happiness can be supported by our own mind, no matter the situation we are passing through.

Submitted by Chewlim on Tue, 14/01/2020 - 20:54

Honestly, I do everything purposely, like learning English because of my work and immigrant. If I must say in the state of flow, that is when I am shopping, I can do it for hours and completely forget about time and phone calls. That's ridiculous.

Submitted by Alberto Moreno on Thu, 09/01/2020 - 02:38

My son and I love going out to read a book each one on starbucks and play soccer on the weekend. I thing that I´m in state of flow.

Submitted by I P on Tue, 17/12/2019 - 22:13

I think I have time, sometimes, when I m in state of flow - that is when I do different activities with children. With children around me I feel complete and full of beans, it s something I can t explain, so I tryed hard to make them happy, instead of it, they make mi happy more every dayy

Submitted by Lujsel on Sun, 15/12/2019 - 14:06

Have you ever been in a 'state of flow' while doing an activity? Yes, I have been in a 'state of flow' while doing something that has the motivation, for example, I can study English all-day because I feel that it's necessary and improving my language skills. Also, we are in 'state of flow' when we are fall in love..and our all thoughts and actions are followed by a person who we love. But it has an explanation. When we have motivation in the brain increased the mix of neurotransmitters: adrenaline, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and phenylethylamine. So, for motivation or 'state of flow' need to keep healthy and in balance our neurotransmitters, especially dopamine that controls our motivation to something. And I think, to have a happy life is not mean to have everything in the world, but it is how you feel when you do work or live with somebody. Our psychological health is a measure of happiness.
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Submitted by Smiley1 on Sat, 05/10/2019 - 00:15

I forget something else, like putting off my contact lens all day, while being in a state of flow. (* >ω

Submitted by OmarAdelSherif on Fri, 04/10/2019 - 18:14

I think I have been sometimes in a state of flow while doing some activities. For example, while spending my time on social media talking with my friends or when I spend my time reading about a subject that interests me or listening to an interesting debate. Studying also specially interesting subjects takes me in state of flow.
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Submitted by kamicounciler on Wed, 04/09/2019 - 21:46

i think i have experienced "state of flow" sometimes.although not very much , but sometimes i have been in that special situation when you forget the pass of time and work for hours,and suddenly you notice that have been working for hours. however i have not had that special feeling of "being in a river" and "being taken" by the work that i am doing,unfortunately.
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Submitted by Magedelabd on Sun, 01/09/2019 - 17:49

I be in a state of flow if I am doing something related to my career , like sending CVs , learning English and looking for a university to study .

Submitted by arodriguezc on Thu, 22/08/2019 - 23:21

Have you ever been in a 'state of flow' while doing an activity? Yes, when I was reading comics or listening to music. I'm in an estate of flow.
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Submitted by mehrazin on Thu, 22/08/2019 - 18:51

hello everybody yes i have experienced the situation like that and the state of flow for many years just as Jackson mi-hay described in his interesting lecture , it was extraordinary incredible being in a hard condition working 8 hours 7 days a week without stopping and having a rest but at the same time feeling happiness. when i was listening to the audio i get the reason that how i felt happiness despite of the hardness es of the period . thanks alot mehrazin

Submitted by Yuli Bautista on Wed, 21/08/2019 - 09:59

Have you ever been in a 'state of flow' while doing an activity? Yes, when I was teaching, typing some documents on the computer, so definitely while working I'd been in an estate of flow.
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Submitted by Smiley1 on Sat, 17/08/2019 - 10:33

Yeah......that's my drawback!

Submitted by starfish2019 on Sat, 10/08/2019 - 17:51

Have you ever been in a 'state of flow' while doing an activity? Yes, I had while I was doing my website design, business cards design, listening music, sending shipping quotations to customers and doing sales and marketing plans for my logistics business.

Submitted by pam89 on Fri, 09/08/2019 - 10:23

I think when I'm going to do something that I love than I'm in a state of flow. For example,when I play tennis
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Submitted by tunguyenprnt on Sat, 06/07/2019 - 15:09

What does "state of flow" mean? Can you explain for me?

Hello tunguyenprnt

That is what the professor describes in the sixth paragraph. A 'state' is what our mind or heart (when 'heart' refers to our whole being) is like at a particular time. The idea here is that when we are very concentrated and creative with something at the same time, we are in such a state.

If you do an internet search for 'Csikszentmihalyi state of flow', I'm sure you will see many other explanations of this idea.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Claudette Ndenzako on Sat, 06/07/2019 - 07:07

I love dancing, singing and listening to music. I could spend my entire life doing just that. Yes it does make me happy.

Submitted by Marie17 on Mon, 03/06/2019 - 11:06

Hello The state of flow is an intense state of concentration on what we do and I experience it when i write poetry or when I am painting but also when I medite. All these are strange experiences where life appear us more full, intense,deep and I enjoy this! Best to you
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Submitted by yassin Albashkany on Sat, 18/05/2019 - 13:42

agree , I think i've been in a state of flow , I really interested in this subject , thanks

Submitted by liaben on Wed, 15/05/2019 - 17:28

When I swim I feel this state

Submitted by AlexS on Thu, 09/05/2019 - 05:01

Our life is what we think of it!

Submitted by Ol4ik on Fri, 03/05/2019 - 18:53

Thanks for record, it was realy interesting! I have had experiense of feeling happiness during painting by soft pastel. I enjoy this activity and can waste hours for it.

Submitted by Demi on Thu, 25/04/2019 - 09:12

Yes,I have been in a state of flow while doing an activity.I think it’s called passion in some other way.For me,I’m in a state of flow when I dance.I’m really happy whenever I dance .So,I agree with this definition of hapliness.
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Submitted by Siberian on Wed, 24/04/2019 - 11:56

I have noticed this states in my life so many times. I am PR-specialist. And when I am working at the new project I lost the feel of time. I can forget about meeting, eat, rest etc. All my thoughts in that moment are about the subject. I am sure that it is a way to do all your best because you are so concentrated and self-controlled. And when you are inside the flow it`s look like the univerce helps you!

Submitted by Natik on Sun, 21/04/2019 - 20:59

Yes. I think i’ve Been in a state of flow
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Submitted by Noble Turk on Fri, 12/04/2019 - 18:44

I really interested in this subject. İs there any following writing about this topic?
Hello Noble Turk, We don't have a direct follow-up to this lecture, but you can use our search page to find material on similar topics: ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team
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Submitted by ANSELMO ANTÓNI… on Tue, 02/04/2019 - 10:53