An introduction to a lecture

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

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.

Transcript

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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Discussion

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Submitted by mcambindo22 on Fri, 09/10/2020 - 22:28

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Yes, I have been in state of a flow constantly of happiness while I am with my family or when I am studying even though there are some situations when I don't understand something and feeling a bit sad, but I remember my goals and continue striving.

Submitted by Dariusz on Fri, 02/10/2020 - 14:28

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Yes I have been. I am in a "state of flow" for example when I learn english.
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Submitted by danisep on Wed, 09/09/2020 - 00:46

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That happened to me a lot when I was in school, I used to play the guitar and used to spare all the afternoon playing, listening and reading about music. Those days have gone, but now I use this time to learn new things and grow like a person and professional.

Submitted by katyatorres on Tue, 08/09/2020 - 04:12

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Yeah, I remember being in that stage when I'm at the church and I'm praying and worshiping to God. I forget the time because I'm focusing on that special moment.

Submitted by Abbasshirdast on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 15:20

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some times, I'm watching movies with horror genre. I love this categorize of movies. during watching it, I ignore from the passage of time. the movie maybe has long as 2 or 3 hours, but it don't caused the tiring me. by this way, my mind less involved to our problem. the another thing that I like to do for getting out of problems is walking.

Submitted by Ugulhan on Mon, 31/08/2020 - 07:24

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The state of flow can happen to my English habits. When I started to practice English then if I would meet some interesting themes I lose track of time and I would sit within long hours.

Hi Razan Mahairy,

Thanks for your kind comments. It is an interesting topic, isn't it? We're glad you found these listenings useful. 

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hill on Thu, 27/08/2020 - 03:37

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I have been in a state of flow once I am reading books, especially my interesting books. I define the happiness is the time you do things with all your concentration and do not pay attention to things around you. The ways you do things, the goals you achieve is more important than how much you did.

Submitted by Daniela Zapata on Wed, 26/08/2020 - 23:25

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Yes, I have been in a state of flow a lot of times. Usually, when I am drawing or doing some work, I lost track of time.

Submitted by Rinaa on Mon, 24/08/2020 - 22:04

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To be honest these days I found myself in a state of flow. I'm full commitment to learning English, and sometimes I spend many hours In front of the Laptop, doing exercise to improve it without noticing that time has passed. I'm totally absorbed in it, without having an interest in anything else. I'm totally concentrated on becoming fluent in English.

Submitted by Suane Alves on Fri, 14/08/2020 - 20:18

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Yes, When I'm doing something that I like the time can fly by and I don't even notice. For example, this activity is when I am read a book, learn English, listening to my songs, talking to a friend, or eating barbecue with my family. I feel the state of flow.

Submitted by Asni on Mon, 10/08/2020 - 00:47

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When I enjoy what I'm doing, I'm in a state of flow. For example, when I go to the gym and start working out, I forget about everything...I just feel like I'm different, I'm proud of myself and satisfied, it gives me a great positive feeling and a lot of energy...

Submitted by IKEDA on Sat, 01/08/2020 - 06:58

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I have the experience of flow sometimes. While I do programming, I often forget times and I'm surprised myself how long I have done that. I heard Csikszentmihalyi for the first time in this unit and I was impressed by the theory of "flow", I want to read his book soon.

Submitted by fahri on Fri, 31/07/2020 - 01:49

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The happy is if you feeling, showing, or causing pleasure or satisfaction. The keynote are pleasure and satisfaction. If you pleasure and satisfaction with something or with someone or with situation then you are happy people. And If you not pleasure and not satisfaction with something or with someone or with situation then you are not happy people
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Submitted by Hennadii on Thu, 30/07/2020 - 10:28

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The state of flow is my life )) I'm not the anti-flow person, actually. I don't like to struggle with something difficult I prefer to find my pros and new possibilities. I think everyone needs to find his (her) own way to harmony, find a passion in one's life and the method how-to relax, recharge one's battery, and move forward. It's hard but finding your personal way to happiness is a reason for being.

Submitted by abudo93 on Sat, 25/07/2020 - 23:07

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Yes, that's always happening when I do new work, especially while I'm wake up after.

Submitted by Hn0062 on Sun, 19/07/2020 - 11:35

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in principle, each of us have experienced it a few times, even it probably happened about some small issues, for instantce: whe I am learning a new thing in English languege, I would rather go on study it for hours.I am full of enthusiasm for learning at that time. I concentrate for studying. personlly, I enjoy study English. But i am sometimes tired about it and I can't get anything and I feel done.

Submitted by wahbi baklouti on Thu, 02/07/2020 - 20:41

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I have been in a state of flow when I'm working or learn something that I love. I start to focus on it and absorb everything.

Submitted by ndiaw on Wed, 01/07/2020 - 17:18

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sure! doing what I like the most: reading.

Submitted by Miho Watanabe on Mon, 22/06/2020 - 07:54

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Yes, I have. When I was junior high school student, I was absorbed in playing badminton. I was a member of badminton club at junior high school, so I always practiced badminton to win a lot of games. Then, the more I practiced it, the more my skill of badminton was improved. So, I think I was in a state of flow.

Submitted by byterz76 on Sat, 20/06/2020 - 01:33

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I'm a musical producer and the state of flow is exacvlty how I fell when I do music, now I'm very ompressed with that, because in this moment of my life, music is the only thing that makes me happy, altough, studying english makes me so happy too ♥

Submitted by senes19 on Thu, 18/06/2020 - 21:39

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Yes, for many times I have to say I am absorbed in what i am doing. I think in the life the most important thing is to evaluate the time and period. If we achieve this evaluate, we would save our past and future. Evaluating the time which now we are living means a lot of opportunities for us to be able successful. I belive that our strongest point is having to ability to evaluate the moment.

Submitted by Sharif Tayyebi on Tue, 16/06/2020 - 21:11

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Yes, of course. I was in a "state of flow" while I was studying mathematics. When I was at school I loved mathematics. After graduating from school, I studied political science and law. There was a course that was named Obligation Law. It was very interesting for me. Therefore, when I was reading books in that field, I was attracted to, which is named "absorbed" by positive psychologists. When I was studying criminal law in my M.A. degree, the philosophy of criminal law was very nice. So, I usually enjoyed and felt pleasure, when I was reading theories of criminal law. Then, I applied and succeeded in AIHRC and there were many things, but I was interested in philosophy of human rights. Now I am reading a book in the field of criminal law and it is very interesting. So, I am obviously having a pleasure time with it. Regards, Tayyebi

Submitted by Nagato on Sat, 23/05/2020 - 19:58

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I don't support this I theory of flow because many tines I was in state of flow and I wasn't happy. In my opinion we get the happiness when we ignore our problem and also when we enjoy what we are doing، by other word happiness is contentment.
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Submitted by JuanManuelLopezGil on Mon, 11/05/2020 - 23:29

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Yes, of course. I have been in a "state of flow" before my travel to Malta because visited all my friends and share many time with my family.

Submitted by AMOUGOU Abega … on Sun, 10/05/2020 - 09:32

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of course, i think everyone has experienced the state of flow. in fact it depents of what you're doing, if it concerne a very interesting subjet you'll obviously being in state of flow. for my part i used to felt asleep when i watch a boring movie, but when it's on interesting subjets, i usually forget about things surounding me, feel totally absorbed.

Submitted by RiccardoLippi on Sun, 03/05/2020 - 10:09

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Yes I have. I have been in a "state of flow" during all the New Years holiday which I have spent with my friends at the Lago Maggiore. During those days I felt very well, they were a continuous party. I think that Csikszentmihalyi was right when he defined the "State of Flow". During those days the time was stopped and I didn't think about my problems and my worries, I felt only well with people which I loved. Rarely it happened while I was studying or working, but I think that is the same for almost all people.

Submitted by Arekisan on Sun, 03/05/2020 - 04:23

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Yes. It's necessary for me when I need to focus on any kind of work or something good. I can waste a lot of time while doing it, but if it was useful, it makes me happy.

Submitted by Carlos Castillo on Fri, 17/04/2020 - 02:21

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Yeah. When I have to solve a problem, I just focus on it and the time just pass away.

Submitted by Daudau0601 on Thu, 16/04/2020 - 03:55

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Yes of course. I am in a state of flow while i'm studying. I have a habit when i start learning, i turn off face book or social network to focus on studying effectively. So i completely lost track of time.
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Submitted by dinhhang on Wed, 15/04/2020 - 04:14

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yes, I had. when I draw I can lost track of time, I feel the time flow so fast.

Submitted by Ayzhan on Mon, 13/04/2020 - 17:20

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Hi everyone! Yes, indeed, I know this feeling, when I am in "a state of flow" - it is happen when I involved in something interesting to me. Yes, its very fantastic feeling- in these moments - I am very happy.

Submitted by micaela on Sat, 04/04/2020 - 02:10

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Yes, I been in a "state of flow" when I was really enjoyed in an activity or when I was really worried about something. So I am not sure that the "state of flow" means a state of happyness.

Submitted by jason2295 on Fri, 20/03/2020 - 00:23

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I used to be in a state of flow when I was doing my university homework, in that time I preferred to study at night time late due to there wasn't any noise around.

Submitted by jazmin marquez on Mon, 16/03/2020 - 11:58

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Sure, I've been in "flow state" when I'm teaching. In those moments time passes faster and I forget all my problems. I have also been in this state while practicing some physical activities, such as running and cycling. This matter made me think about the importance of a good choice of our work and professions; on this depends our happiness!!!!
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Submitted by Nikolaos Stavr… on Mon, 16/03/2020 - 11:11

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For sure, I've been in a "state of flow" Whenever I study English I concentrate so hard that I lose track of time. Thank you

Submitted by Birgit17 on Sun, 01/03/2020 - 17:59

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Hello Everyone I agree with this theory. As for me, even though I am not an artist, I maintain that I am really happy when I focus on an activity. Because I am totally involved and therefore, there is no time to think at all. My brain is completely concentrated and I don't have any time to think. I have been learning English for two years on a daily basis. I am keen on learning English everyday. During all the time I am learning, I feel an extreme relief of peace. That also happened last year, when I was painting the walls of my whole flat. We shouldn't think. Never. Thoughts are the venom of our mind. In my opinion, obviously.
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Submitted by Smiley1 on Thu, 20/02/2020 - 12:28

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Yes....! I'm in a state of flow whenever I visit this site! ( ˃̶͈ ᴗ ˂̶͈ )

Submitted by mselmi on Thu, 20/02/2020 - 08:21

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I'm completely absorbed in my work. I'm always in a state of flow. I'm always happy even I don't have work to do. Curently, I am involved in learning English from 8 am to 12 pm while wainting to receive a purchase order from my partners. Also, Learning English will help me to get my English better and then get more work. So external events whatever they are sad dont affect me.

Submitted by shahhoseini on Wed, 19/02/2020 - 16:10

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Yes, I think many people who work on research activities like me, have been in a 'state of flow'. When you research a subject, you should concentrate very high and completely lost track of time.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.