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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B1 English level (intermediate)

Submitted by Thanh Thien on Sat, 13/08/2022 - 09:37


I remember one time when I was preparing for the university entrance exam. It was like I lose track of time and everythings around me, there were just me and the lesson, it was also like while I am in a dream: my body was light and my mind have nothing but the numbers, words and formulas. And when my perceptions of time and things come back, I feel surprised at my absorption and what I have done with the lesson. I think that's the state of flow to be mentioned in the lecture.


Submitted by Weena pineda on Mon, 25/07/2022 - 16:46


I have been in a state of flow when writing or studying some things about my college career.

Submitted by AlexandraMT on Sun, 24/07/2022 - 10:27


I have been in a state flow when I study topics about my professional career, my own bussines or about human life

Submitted by matidom on Tue, 12/07/2022 - 12:56


Yes, I have been in a state of flow for example when I go fishing. I can spend hours and hours only seeing the water and waiting for a fish.

Submitted by Youssef Karfouh on Sat, 09/07/2022 - 12:01


Yes , i have been in state of flow when i open my text editor and start coding to build things like a web app or something like that , i feel so absorbed and lost of track . that makes me happy

Submitted by Selinay. on Wed, 15/06/2022 - 09:50


Yes, i have been in state of flow, while i was playing tennis. I am full focus on the court and the ball.

Submitted by Jeedapa on Sun, 12/06/2022 - 05:21


I've been in a state of flow while I am dancing. Every time I dance, I lose track of time. I forget sadness and worries. I feel happy all the time.

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Submitted by Magedelabd on Sat, 04/06/2022 - 05:03


yes i have been in state of flow if i am listening to an interested talk show . talking about our daily life problems .

Submitted by nadyanightingale on Mon, 16/05/2022 - 13:42


I definitely was in a state of flow when I was focused on my favourite activity. I was for example during listening to the music, dancing, playing with my children, catching up with my friends, walking through the city centre of a new city as a tourist. This feeling is unbelievable and makes me alway happy.

Submitted by Ehsan on Tue, 10/05/2022 - 06:47


yes surely, I have been in the condition of " state of flow" many times. for example when I was reading a book, going to a trip, play a music, being with a person whom I was interested to and etc.

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Submitted by Ethel on Thu, 10/02/2022 - 14:16


Yes, I experimented the "state of flow" when I play music, and even when I read. Frecuently, people must call me several times for me to answer, so is my grade of concentration.

Submitted by younes01 on Mon, 24/01/2022 - 08:06


for me, the flow is when you do something that is not hard and not easy at the same time.
for me, it's more than happiness and everyone who had tried it said it is a good thing.

Submitted by Miguelitorico1996 on Thu, 13/01/2022 - 01:46


I've sometimes been in the state of flow when I play soccer, I feel like if I were flying and all my problems are gone.

Submitted by misty on Sun, 09/01/2022 - 03:02


Yes, I've been in a state of flow most of the time while watching my favorite shows. I lost track of the time that I even forget to have my proper meal. I know, it is not a healthy habit, subsequently I try to change it.

Hi misty on Sun , I have checked your answer like pychologist and I can see that you dont are completely happy , respect your favourite series or shows on TV world´s, it is only a distractión, really you are lossing your own perspective about your life and wellbeing. of course we never try to change one situation when it make us happy really.
my advice for you search for your book of cience and read ( All the things are allowed but not all the things are convenient, All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by any). happy time

Submitted by ANOUAR on Tue, 04/01/2022 - 14:09


I remember when I was studying Math and solving equations I was totaly in a flow state And I forgot all the things around me.

Submitted by jmajo on Fri, 24/12/2021 - 16:53


Yes, I have, I've been on that state several times throughout my life, sometimes when I was working and also having fun or doing sports I remember feeling absorbed doing it, despite that I don't think it could be a permanent state of mind, rather than that it's some spontaneous and sudden state of mind, but in my case I can recognise being in that state every time I'm doing something creative or when I have to make up a solution for a problem at work. I remember when I was younger and worked in a carpentry for longer hours losing the track of time, most of the times that happened to me when I had to built a new piece of wooden furniture that demands a lot of concentration or make a restoration of it which requires a lot of measures and tests.

Thanks for the lesson.
Great site!

Submitted by vuhoap on Wed, 24/11/2021 - 00:24


Yes, I have ever been in a 'state of flow' while programming or watching a movie. My job is programmer so I always program and debug to find bugs. The process of debug leaves me in a state of flow. So I am completely absorbed in it.

Submitted by danielbacelar on Wed, 03/11/2021 - 21:58


Yes, I run four times a week, always alone and without music and other distractions, for that.

Submitted by ceehinh on Mon, 01/11/2021 - 03:30


yes, I have been in a state of flow a load of time. I mean, especially, I have been reading a novel or watching some romantic movies until it has finished so that I have lost track of many things like to-do list, study,... you can see? I waste of time doing something like that and I'm putting on check Facebook, Instagram,... that it makes me distracted

Submitted by Estíbaliz75 on Tue, 19/10/2021 - 21:39


Yes, when I'm reading a novel that I really like so much. I don't realize how long I've been spent to read, I’m able to not stop until I finish it

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Thu, 07/10/2021 - 18:07


Yes, I'm forget everything when I reading stories and novels. I totally lose of track and I'm happy to be reading and excited about this.

Submitted by vanhoc on Wed, 06/10/2021 - 05:31


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.

Submitted by Amer Ha on Tue, 05/10/2021 - 02:19


I have rarely been in state of flow while doing activity.

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Submitted by iEdd on Wed, 07/07/2021 - 18:18

Yes, I have. Several times. The main activity is reading, since I love it. Even, reading books in english has become part of my personal routine. Another one is study Physics. It doesn't matter what's hapenning outside, once I find the correct rithym of studying, I'm absrved in what I'm learning and understanding. Finally, the last is when I'm playing an important volleyball match. Sometimes, my team and I heve spent almost five hours in a game, and obviously, we didn't feel the time's flow.

Submitted by GiulianaAndy on Wed, 23/06/2021 - 19:39

Yes, I have. I remember in 2019 when I was studying mathematics (I loved mathematics) I usually go to sleep at 10 pm, but that day I met an exercise which was very difficult, so I was really focused on solving it. I didn't notice the time or the silence in my condo. When I finished to solve that exercise I came to the living room and saw the clock; it was at around 3 am. I was surprised because I was not tired o sleepy.

Submitted by fariba on Wed, 16/06/2021 - 08:31

yes i have been in state of flow several times, when i was painting.

Submitted by Paula Bermúdez… on Wed, 12/05/2021 - 01:34

Yes, of course. I have been in a state of flow when I cook or listen to music, it's incredible and amazing because you enjoy each part of these activities.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Fri, 16/04/2021 - 06:20

When I'm watching movies in the smartphone then I have totally loss of track and external effects have not seen.

Submitted by Frank Cuello on Fri, 02/04/2021 - 15:49

When I'm playing video games I often lose the track of time. This thing cannot be said when I try to study or learn about something about math.

Submitted by In on Sun, 28/03/2021 - 06:32

Yes, I did. This happens to me when I`m in the present moment. We use to live thinking in the future or in the past, but when we are in the present moment and we left to be absorbed by the flow of that, then is where the magic appears.

Submitted by Leila77 on Sun, 14/03/2021 - 10:25

I found this audio so interesting and I wish I could listen to the rest of the lecture. Yes, I have been in a state of flow while reading an interesting book. Sometimes I can't stop reading until I finish it, even it's really late in the night.

Submitted by mo-tarik on Sat, 06/03/2021 - 14:01

Been in a state of flow nowadays is not that easy, as it demands a huge concentration, and because of todays entertainment it becomes very hard for us to focus on our tasks. In my opinion even if it's hard to reach this state, we can try to practice it each day and develop the ability to control it.

Submitted by Sofía Alejandra on Sun, 28/02/2021 - 06:11

I'm in a state of flow while I practice an hour of yoga class, it ended with the position savasana, the death position.

Submitted by German on Thu, 18/02/2021 - 02:10

I have been in state of flow when I am creating new tools to help the companies to resolve their problems.

Submitted by Abrarhussain on Mon, 08/02/2021 - 08:21

Yes of course, I completely absorb my self and become in a state of flow during watching international cricket matches on television, I also take a long time when I read stories and poetry books.

Submitted by lavande1983 on Thu, 04/02/2021 - 21:44

I also agree with this theory that a happy life is a life in which we are completely absorbed in what we do. Il means we interested so much in what we do. But i demmande if addiction is a type of hapiness? For example: game addiction, a person can spend most of his time on video game without eating and sleeping. He completely loses track of time, he does not notice about externant events around him, he plays video game for many hours , evens days. It’s very harmful for his health

Submitted by Aroooma on Tue, 26/01/2021 - 20:05

Yes I 'm completely enter the state of flow when I read a good books or sing my favourite songs,It's wonderful state ,you feel like swimm in the space with out any noisy ideas

Submitted by cittàutopica on Tue, 26/01/2021 - 18:24

I rarely have been in a "state of flow", because I have always tried to preserve a discriminating approach in regard to everything I was doing.

Submitted by Nguyễn Thảo Linh on Thu, 21/01/2021 - 15:35

I am always lose track of time when I am watching my favorite movies or when I am attending a lecture which its lecture can convey his or her knowledge obviously.

Submitted by Fatii on Sun, 17/01/2021 - 09:51

I experience this state of flow when I learn something new and in the same time I love it, I lost the track of time, otherwise when I did something I didn't like I feel boring.
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Submitted by El Cuy Mágico on Fri, 15/01/2021 - 21:26

Of course, I have been in state of flow when I used to play football or basketball. It’s a pretty difficult feeling to describe. But it’s totally true when they say you lose track of time. I also feel this state of flow when I read, but obviously I really have to be quite attracted by the topic.

Submitted by marlio96 on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 18:57

Yes, sometimes I can concentrate on doing some activity that I can lose track of time, for example when I play the piano or when I am running, however when I am doing something that I like.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Sun, 10/01/2021 - 05:27

Yes, I'm in a state of flow when I reading novels. I like too much novel it's feel me to free about future.i completely absorbed in this. I forget many things about my homework, exam etc. This theory is too much importance in real life. From now I have known what's makes a happy life. It's one of the good lesson. It's learn both - learn English and how to being a happy Thanks a lot BC.

Submitted by Elham Barakat on Mon, 04/01/2021 - 15:54

I accomplish this state of flow only when I read books. But mostly I didn't catch this feeling. I didn't lose my track. No way to flow with the current of air.

Submitted by Saad786 on Sat, 26/12/2020 - 11:14

I have been in a state of flow when I play pes 21 and score more goals.

Submitted by As Sema on Mon, 21/12/2020 - 09:45

why it is not play???

Hello As Sema,

I understand you're having problems listening to the audio. I've checked the page and it appears to be working correctly. You should see the audio player under the 'Preparation' section.

If the audio does not play for you, try using a different device. Sometimes the device can have compatibility issues, so changing the device may help.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Harrison on Sat, 19/12/2020 - 04:15

Sure, I have been in state of flow while I was reading the article about the universe and space. I had absorbed and addicted in the article I was reading. And, as yon know, the universe is extremely astronomical. So, obviously, the articles about universe is also massive. I always lost track of time while I was reading these article and the time will often reach to midnight.

Submitted by Razy on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 11:43

I remember, I really felt this state when I was a school child. Well, while solving a math question, I was so absorbed in so that I couldn't notice that my room has been dark. In other words, I was losing track of anything that was happening around me, except for math.