An introduction to a lecture

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.



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 …


Worksheet83.65 KB

Language level

Average: 4.1 (126 votes)
Do you need to improve your English listening skills?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English listening skills with our online courses.

Submitted by pikanov on Fri, 20/10/2023 - 08:15


I am in a state of flow when I am writing something. Writing releases my endorphins, so I feel relaxed and calm. And I didn't realize the day would be the end.

Submitted by Safe_Mode on Wed, 11/10/2023 - 20:59


I'm in state of flow when I make something with my hands, for example, repair or assemble something. I was in state of flow when I was learning programming. I like online courses with interactive tasks because I feel myself in flow state taking the course and doing exercises

Profile picture for user luanlafayete

Submitted by luanlafayete on Fri, 29/09/2023 - 22:31


Today Its his 89's anniversary.

Submitted by Agustina Micaela on Thu, 21/09/2023 - 16:05


I have experienced a state of flow while I was watching my favorite movie.

Submitted by marcialopes on Sat, 26/08/2023 - 13:22


I have experienced a state of flow numerous times while engaging in activities that I am passionate about. Unfortunately, this has not happened during work-related tasks. However, I find myself completely absorbed whenever I plan a trip. I can easily spend hours searching for various attractions, museums to explore, and especially authentic local restaurants to try. Perhaps I should consider a career in tourism.

Profile picture for user Jouu

Submitted by Jouu on Sun, 13/08/2023 - 09:40


I can't make sense of the second question task 2 cuz in the transcript the professor asked "What makes a happy life" but the answer provided is "What a happy life is". In the 2nd question, obviously the question is "What a happy life is" which is different from what the prof said in the transcript. As a result, I chose false and failed the task. I had a bit feeling embarrassed and would please if s.o could expound on this matter

Hello Jouu,

I'm sorry about the misunderstanding! The question is not asking about the exact words used but rather the sense of what is said. If the question was about the exact words then it would have speech marks ("___") to make this clear. It's very common for comprehension questions like this to use paraphrases of what is actually said.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by nganvo110 on Tue, 23/05/2023 - 14:33


When faced with a lack of understanding in class, I employ a few strategies to grasp the concepts. Initially, I turn to relevant reading materials to ensure I haven't overlooked any essential information. If my comprehension remains elusive, I then seek assistance from my teacher or peers to help clarify my doubts. However, I prefer not to burden them immediately with my questions, as I believe in the value of personal effort and problem-solving. By conducting independent research and engaging in self-reflection, I allow myself the opportunity for further contemplation and delve deeper into the subject matter. For instance, I may explore additional resources, consult online references, or engage in related exercises to solidify my understanding.

Submitted by Hiba ana on Sun, 21/05/2023 - 10:52


yes i have been in state of flow so many times when i read novels , watch movies ,when i am on the exams , and when i am listening or watching interesting issues .

Submitted by nganvo110 on Fri, 19/05/2023 - 09:31


I have experienced a state of flow while cooking. When I cook, I prefer to work alone in a quiet environment, allowing me to fully concentrate on preparing the food. Achieving delicious results requires careful ingredient selection and seasoning. This process is not just scientific, but also artistic, as it involves using my senses and expertise to create a well-balanced flavor profile. In Vietnam, unlike in Western cultures with extensive introductions to taste, we have a saying called 'just chasing a hunch,' meaning we rely on our intuition to make it right.